Col. Michael Sapp, Garrison Commander of Fort George G. Meade, Md., provides words of encouragement and motivation on April 19, 2023, to those in attendance at the first Our Community Cares High School Recognition Ceremony for AACPS students.

By Shaun Herron, Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs

Our Community Salutes honored nearly 80 seniors in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system, while their parents, teachers, coaches, and others in the community showed their support for the students’ commitments to serve in the U.S. military upon graduation.

Wednesday’s event, with over 200 in attendance, was the first time Our Community Salutes has conducted their High School Enlistee Recognition Ceremony in Anne Arundel County.

The Our Community Salutes began these ceremonies in 2009 in South New Jersey to honor those students who made the choice to enlist and serve their country and community. Since the first singular ceremony in 2009, the organization has fully-fledged and provided more than 50 events this year alone.

Hilari Luck, a mother of three sons who enlisted and currently serve in the Air Force, attended the High School Enlistee Recognition for the first time when Walker Luck, followed his older brother’s (Xavier) footsteps and enlisted before graduating. When her youngest son (Trent) enlisted, she made sure to take part in his recognition ceremony by Our Community Salutes.

“I have three children who graduated last year - two went on to college and one to military and my family celebrated for making the best decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time. Some people think the military is not their first choice, for these kids here – for many of them – it is their first choice. And it’s a great choice of service and sacrifice that’s not only going to bless them but bless us too.”

Guest speakers include Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, Deputy Commanding General, MD National Guard, Command Sgt. Maj. Michele Jones (Ret.), and Larry O’Connor, WMAL Radio, who celebrated the choices of Anne Arundel County’s newest service members and encouraged these young warriors to embrace the opportunities in the military.

Fort George G. Meade Garrison Commander, Col. Michael Sapp, provided additional motivational remarks, “Standing up when others may not - it is about wanting to answer the call to serve in the military in support of this nation.”