By Bob Stuart, The News Virginian
etired Army Lt. Col. Saul Herrera told Fishburne Military School cadets on Saturday a call to service does not automatically mean military service.
Herrera, a 21-year veteran of the Army, spoke at Fishburne’s Veterans Day observance at Riverview Cemetery. The hour-long program took place on a perfect autumn day, with crisp temperatures and not a cloud in the sky.
“Cadets, what is your call to service?” Herrera asked. He said after a military career that included serving as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and working at U.S. Northern Command and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, he now serves as the regional director for The Exodus Road. The organization focuses on humanitarian and counter-human trafficking efforts.
Herrera said the discipline and training cadets receive at Fishburne offers “a platform to spring forward” to service. He invoked President John F. Kennedy’s iconic line from his 1961 inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
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Herrera said there is much for the United States to be proud of in the volunteer efforts of its military. He spoke of how there has been no military draft since the early 1970s. And despite this, he said the most powerful country in the world continues to be staffed by a volunteer military.
Herrera did offer thanks to all in the military “for all the risks and sacrifices” you make.
During Saturday’s program, Fishburne cadets offered tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving the United States. Two cadets placed memorial wreaths at a plaque in the cemetery that honors Waynesboro veterans who died in various wars.
Cadets also draped a flag over an empty chair in respect for those veterans missing in action or those who are prisoners of war.
Retired Army Col. Randal Brown, the president of Fishburne Military School, told the audience that he and his siblings entered the military after hearing their father tell “fighter pilot stories of World War II” about his service.
Fishburne cadets gathered at the school before Saturday’s program and marched several blocks to Riverview Cemetery.