Home Carrollton Army Veteran Harris Addresses CHS Military Recruits

Army Veteran Harris Addresses CHS Military Recruits

CARROLLTON, GA – Nineteen Carrollton High School seniors who committed to join the military and gathered for a signing ceremony heard words of wisdom from a veteran who shared reflections about how his own military career was pivotal in preparing him to become the man he is today.

In a keynote address launching the May 12 program, prominent Carrollton attorney John Harris spoke to the recruits with candor about what they could expect, but also elevated them to an elite status because of their promise to serve their country. Harris said this commitment is becoming more exclusive every day.

“For you who are about to embark on this journey, I want you to take note,” said Harris, who earned the rank of major during his 15 years of service in the U.S. Army. “The face of America’s veterans population is changing and it is changing dramatically. In 1980, 18 percent of people in the United States were veterans. Today, in 2021, that number has dwindled to 7 percent. And that downward trend continues which makes your decision, your dedication, and your upcoming service, ladies and gentlemen, all the more important and all the more impressive.”

Harris said less than one-half of 1 percent of Americans will ever serve in the Armed Forces, and based on today’s U.S. population, only 1.3 million people are currently serving in active duty. 

“That’s who you are. That’s what you’ve decided to do,” said Harris. “You are the less-than-one percent, and that makes you mighty special.” 

Harris said even though it is a very small percentage of people, “the rest of us are dependent and relying on your service,” he told the students. “More than that, we are the benefactors of the freedoms and liberties you confer and preserve by your honorable service. Think about where our rights, where our liberties, where our freedoms, come from. Think about how they are preserved. It’s on the backs of people like you. Young men and young women.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Harris shared his thoughts on the elusive “secret to success” shortcut so many seek but never fully find. 

“You want to know the secret to success? The truth is, there is no secret,” said Harris. “There’s no substitute for hard work and committed effort. That is what will carry you to where you need to go.” 

Following his speech, Harris joined CHS administrators, the recruits and their families in a signing ceremony for three branches of the military – the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Army National Guard. The Class of 2021 seniors slated to serve have set a modern school record with 19 commitments in one year. The ceremony took place at the Mabry Center for the Arts.

CHS Career Specialist Sally Ingui said four of the recruits have earned scholarships from the U.S. Army National Guard and will attend college as members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while 15 others have enlisted to serve immediately upon graduation.

Nicholas Trevor Jens and Isabel King both have accepted Georgia Military Scholarships at the University of North Georgia. Each will receive a full four-year scholarship, will serve in the school’s ROTC program and will be commissioned as officers in the Georgia Army National Guard after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Only 42 of the state-funded scholarships are awarded each year.

Cameron Renton has been awarded the State Service Scholarship, another full scholarship presented to students heading to Georgia Military Academy, a two-year institution. Cameron also will participate in ROTC and will be required to serve in the Army or Air National Guard following graduation.

Dale Drummond has been awarded the Minute-Man Scholarship, a four-year Guard award that requires nomination by an Army official for consideration. He also will participate in ROTC.

Four CHS students who have enlisted in the Navy also have the opportunity to earn college scholarships once they complete their five-year enlistment commitment. The students are Ny’Asia Bailey, Leah Love, Mackenzie Nunn and Elisa Williams. 

The other students who are joining the service are Sidney Caldwell, Seth Couch, Karlo Franklin, Ethan Jindrich, Maurrion Sevier and Adam Rakestraw, Army; Robert Girard, Liam Kelly, Mason Pilgrim and Mikyla Smith, U.S. Army National Guard. They also will have a chance to earn college scholarships for their service.

Carrollton City Schools Supt. Dr. Mark Albertus said while technical school and college are appropriate preparation grounds for many students before they enter the workforce, the military is another way young adults can transition to good careers – not to mention have the opportunity to serve their country. As an Army veteran himself, he knows first hand the value the military has to offer.

“While we don’t recruit for the branches of service, we want to make sure students are aware of the option,” said Albertus, who focused on this exposure while he was principal of CHS. “Traditional college isn’t for everyone. Technical school is a good option, and has been promoted as such. But so is the military. We want to make sure our graduates make the best choice based on their personal situations.”