Tulsa, OK-- A group of about 80 Union High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets, plus 10 chaperones, will climb aboard charter buses this week to embark on their trip to Washington D.C. to witness the swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama.
Union's JROTC unit is one of just 96 groups from across the country participating in the 56th Annual Presidential Inaugural Parade.
The group was denied initially after they applied to participate. Then, around Christmastime, they got a surprise call saying they'd be one of just six JROTC groups to, not just attend the inauguration, but actually march in the inaugural parade.
A trip to witness one of the biggest events in history doesn't come cheap. In total they need to raise $35,000 for what they call a priceless experience.
"Wow, I can't believe I'm going," said one student, who's a senior cadet.
"I'm actually very excited because I voted for him. And the fact that he's the first African-American president. It's a big historical deal."
These students realize the significance of the opportunity they've been given to march in the inaugural parade and be a part of history.
For Senior Master sergeant Dan Snow, the chance is one in a lifetime.
"When the Berlin Wall went down and I was active duty, that was a moment for me," said Snow, who'll be traveling with the group to D.C. "I believe that when the first African-American president is sworn in, that's going to be a watershed moment for this generation."
And a unique bonding experience these students can look back on one day and say, "We were there."
Union's Junior ROTC was chosen to represent the state based on a performance video they submitted for review by the inaugural committee and military drill instructors.
According to Sgt. Snow, their group is the only organization representing the state of Oklahoma in the parade.
To make a tax-deductible donation, send a check to Carol Anderson, president of the Union Air Force JROTC Booster Club, at 8535 E. 64th St., Tulsa, OK 74133. You also can contact Senior Master Sgt. Dan Snow at mail to:firstname.lastname@example.org Lt. Col. Ronald McCool at email@example.com.
Chick-fil-A at 11201 E. 71st St. will donate $1 to the JROTC for every milkshake sold on Friday from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. If the restaurant sells between 750 and 999 milkshakes, it will donate $1,000. If more than 1,000 milkshakes are sold, the Chick-fil-A will donate $1,500.