‘Our Community Salutes’ event honors new enlistees to U.S. military


Community leaders give words of encouragement, advice to future service members

Jackson Taylor acknowledged he was a little bit nervous Wednesday evening, just prior to a ceremony that was going to honor him and so many more like him — future members of the United States military.

“You’re here in front of all these people, publicly saying, ‘I will defend my country from everything that comes our way.’ It’s a very stressful thing, but it’s something I’m proud to be able to say,” Taylor said. “I’m defending not just my family, but my friends’ families.”

High school seniors from the region who are joining the military after graduation gave their ceremonial oaths of enlistment Wednesday at an “Our Community Salutes” event at Skyview High School. Photo by Paul Valencia
High school seniors from the region who are joining the military after graduation gave their ceremonial oaths of enlistment Wednesday at an “Our Community Salutes” event at Skyview High School. Photo by Paul Valencia

Taylor, a Washougal High School senior who has enlisted in the U.S. Space Force, was one of dozens of enlistees from Southwest Washington and Oregon who gave their ceremonial oaths of enlistment at Skyview High School. 

They gathered to be part of the “Our Community Salutes” event, put on by the Community Military Appreciation Committee. 

Retired officers, mayors from Clark County, other local leaders, and a first responder all praised the high school seniors who will be joining the military soon after graduation. They also thanked the parents, who will be making sacrifices, as well.

Jonah Falcon of Ridgefield High School and Jackson Taylor of Washougal High School both say they are excited to be part of something new, the U.S. Space Force. Photo by Paul Valencia
Jonah Falcon of Ridgefield High School and Jackson Taylor of Washougal High School both say they are excited to be part of something new, the U.S. Space Force. Photo by Paul Valencia

Judah Falcon of Ridgefield High School also is going into the Space Force. Falcon said he was drawn to the “brand new opportunity” of being part of the Space Force, which was founded in 2019. He, too, is grateful for a public show of support.

“I feel proud to be here. It’s a defining moment in my life to be here right now,” Falcon said.

Natasha Young of Battle Ground High School said she has a grandfather who was a general and two of her older sisters enlisted after high school. 

Natasha Young of Battle Ground High School plans on becoming a combat medic. Photo by Paul Valencia
Natasha Young of Battle Ground High School plans on becoming a combat medic. Photo by Paul Valencia

“It’s something that runs in my family,” said Young, who is signing up to become a combat medic. “It’s kind of like a kickstart. It gives me a boost. It gives me a great life experience. I think it’s going to take me a really long way.”

Many of the enlistees at Wednesday’s ceremony had already given their oaths in private. On Wednesday, though, they could invite family and friends. 

Gary Medvigy, a Clark County councilor, is a retired major general in the U.S. Army. 

“I am so proud of your choice,” he told the enlistees. “Your community is so proud of your choice. … You are Clark County’s treasures.”

Dr. Jeff Snell, the superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, also gave words of encouragement.

“There will be times when you feel like you are right where you are supposed to be and then there’s going to be other times when you are just trying to find your way. That’s OK,” Snell said. “Enjoy the experience. Learn from the experience. Overcome challenges and look to other challenges. Seize the opportunities to shape your future and make a difference for others.”

Anne McEnerny-Ogle, the mayor of Vancouver, said service members live by three words: duty, honor, and country.

Then she challenged those who are not serving in the military to live the same way.

“To truly show these young men and women how much we appreciate what they are doing for all of us, it is important that we live by those three words,” she said. “When we decide to live with duty, honor, and country, we are paying homage to each and every one of the young men and women before us.”

Sarah Fox, a Vancouver city council member and a six-year veteran of the U.S. Army, was the featured speaker. She gave advice to the enlistees on how to thrive in the military. 

“I will end with a truth that my 17-year-old self would have benefitted from hearing,” she said. “Your choice to join the military was the best decision of your life.”

(For Fox’s entire speech, click here: Army veteran — and Vancouver city council member — gives advice to new enlistees)

The young men and women then took their ceremonial oath of enlistment. 

The ceremony ended with Rey Reynolds of the Vancouver Police Department singing his version of God Bless the U.S.A.

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Scott Hooper
Scott Hooper
3 months ago

Much praise for our youth who pick up the torch for our country. Your community’s care and pride go along wherever this venture takes you.

Thank you for your service, and may you return to us in time to take your place in our communities.

Margaret
Margaret
3 months ago

It’s tragic how many dedicated service members, young and old, have suffered from mandates of products that don’t even prevent getting or transmitting COVID.
U.S. Army surgeon in tears: Top brass ordered silence on vaccine injuries

Tony
Tony
3 months ago

My heart goes out to these kids. They have no idea that they are just dupes for the American empire and imperialism . Love all the B.S. about “freedom” and “serving you country” . They serve my investment portfolio and that’s about it. Since WW 2 , every conflict and the death and disabilities of young men and woman have never been about defense and freedom. It’s about making the world safe for our corporations and expanding capitalism. Come on people. It has already been proven that we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy. Wars in the last 75 years are wars of hegemony, sphere of influence, money, corporate profits and control. I would love for these kids ,like my nephew , to put in 20 years, get a great pension at 38 years old, for someone who barely made it out of high school. He got out of the military without any physical or psychological scaring. Fortunately , he was smart enough to go into the Navy and never had to see any action in the last 20 years. I am a firm supporter of paying these kids well, giving them some life skills for the future , but keeping them home to actually defend the country. Unfortunately that is not the way politics works and these kids going into the military have a good chance of fighting and dying for the financial interests of the top 1%. I have known many colonels and a few retired generals personally in my profession, If you can be a high ranking officer, you have it made. Compared to the rank and file, it’s a cushy job without the risks of an enlisted young man or woman. So, I only have sympathy for our youth who have been fooled by the propaganda of freedom and the American way.