This spring, Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers — along with area residents and leaders from surrounding communities — are set to gather once again at the Waynesville High School gymnasium for the area's second-annual Community Salute to Service.
This year's event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 23, and will once again highlight high school seniors and their commitment to join the armed forces.
"We are honored to host this event for the region again this year," said Dr. Brian Henry, Waynesville R-VI School District superintendent. "While we may be rivals on the fields, courts and tracks, when it comes to this event, all of our area schools unite as Americans to recognize our students who are volunteering to serve our nation."
According to Capt. Matthew Poole, Mid-Missouri Recruiting Company commander, the 2019 event provided an excellent chance to honor every service member.
"It's always special when you can honor those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines – past, present and those who are willing to serve in the future," Poole said.
Last year, hundreds of area residents gathered to recognize 60 high school seniors from schools all over south-central Missouri. The event featured a performance from a local Junior ROTC drill team and live music by the 399th Army Band.
In addition, several distinguished guests were in attendance last year, including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Both Parson and Martin have been invited to attend this year's event.
In 2019, Parson (an Army veteran) and Martin recognized each student and presented them a letter from congressional leaders.
"You're going to make sacrifices for people you'll never see, you'll never know and you'll never meet," Parson said at the event.