By Riley Langefeld, copy editor
In an effort to recognize Prospect alumni who have served in the military, the administration has worked with the Class of 1964 to create a monument outside the KLC. The monument was dedicated on Mar. 21 in a ceremony attended by numerous local veterans, students and administrators.
The event began with a few words from Assistant Principal for Student Activities Frank Mirandola. He was followed by a group of students who sang the national anthem while members of Prospect’s Navy Junior ROTC chapter presented the flag.
The ceremony included several speakers, the first of whom was 1964 graduate and local lawyer Ernie Blomquist. Blomquist and several other members of the Class of 1964 wanted to honor two of their classmates, 1964 graduates Mike Kean and Chris Schoenbeck, who had died in the military, so they approached the administration with a proposal for the monument. Mirandola was among the people who facilitated its creation.
“I want our Prospect community to realize that heroes walk among them,” Mirandola said. “And heroes don’t necessarily have to be wearing uniforms. They’re people that are committed to their community, committed to their country, and committed to their families — doing special things and trying to make a positive difference in the world.”
Mirandola believes that the alumni recognized in the memorial exemplify these traits, and he hopes that students will draw inspiration from this monument.
Senior Morgan Skocz, a member of the Navy Junior ROTC chapter, assisted with the presentation and shares Mirandola’s hope that students recognize the service of their peers.
“[This memorial was created] to honor our troops. They’ve done a lot for our country, and we want to give them a lot of credit for it,” Skocz said. “It’s why we have freedom in this country. They’re fighting for our freedom right now. I think it’s important to honor that.”
Master Sgt. Dutch DeGroot was among the veterans in attendance at the event. DeGroot served in the Army and the Air Force and is now the Veteran Service Officer for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1337 and the American Legion 525 Post. In this role, he helps local veterans in any way that he can, including disability treatment and education. He also works to teach young people about careers in the military.
DeGroot noted that the percentage of the American population that serves in the armed forces has dropped significantly over the last several decades. He expressed his hope that the memorial will help to shed light on the positive aspects of a military career.
“[Events like these] are important because you want to remember people who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” DeGroot said. “People don’t understand the significance of serving anymore.”
DeGroot hopes that people in the Prospect community will become more open to military service in the future.
“It’s really a privilege and honor to serve your country,” DeGroot said.