Sioux City, Iowa --
A group of high school seniors who are anxiously anticipating graduating in the coming days gathered for special recognition event at the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City, Iowa this week.
The Sioux City Chamber of Commerce unveiled military service related graduation stoles that the group will be wearing this year as they receive their diplomas.
Students from the Sioux City area who are headed for military service will be wearing the stoles during their upcoming commencement ceremonies. The stoles are decorated with colors and symbols of the graduate’s chosen military service.
Chris McGowan from the Sioux City Chamber said the stoles were created as part of an initiative to honor students who are entering the military. He said the program will provide stoles for students who have been accepted to one of the military service academies, enlisted into an active duty component or joined a component of the Reserve or National Guard.
McGowan was flanked by 185th Air Refueling Wing Commander, Colonel Mark Muckey who agreed to host the event at the Air National Guard base in Sioux City. Muckey said he was thrilled that the idea included members of the Iowa Air and Army National Guard along with all the other military branches.
“The leadership at the 185th has tremendous pride in all the high school seniors who have chosen to serve in the U.S. military,” Muckey commented.
The invited students were ceremonially adorned with their stoles in front of a group of parents, guests and military members at the event. Stoles were presented representing the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps along with the Army and Air National Guard.
One of the students invited to the event was Sarah Hall who is graduating this spring from Westwood High School in Sloan, Iowa. Hall said she has already joined the Iowa Air National and anticipates skipping her first semester of college in order to attend her initial training. She said the stole presentation from the Chamber was unexpected but also very much appreciated.
The future nursing student said it was her mom that convinced her to join the National Guard. Hall noted that while patriotism was a significant factor in joining the military she said having her tuition paid by the National Guard was also very persuading.
“It’s an honor,” Hall said about joining the service. “It’s not as scary as everybody makes it out to be, but it is a big deal.”
All involved are hopeful that the program will expand to include additional area schools in the coming years. At the event McGowan said he invites schools and students who are interested in the program to contact the Sioux City Chamber office.