Memorial Day started off on a bit of a disheartened note for me.

Due to a lack of community interest and support, Lansford did not hold a Memorial Day parade this year.

Instead, a service was held at Kennedy Park in front of a very small crowd.

I looked around at the sparse attendance and just shook my head as I thought about how sad it was that the people of Lansford couldn't even bother to come out to honor the fallen heroes of the town and of our country.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but the truth is, I wasn't.

As easy as it would be to harp on about the people that weren't there, I am going to tell you about the ones who were.

For starters, there were several veterans there who know the value of our freedom and the cost associated with it. They honor and remember their brethren and hope that someone will someday honor them.

Please know that there are those of us who are truly grateful for your service and sacrifices and that we will never forget.

There were a few other folks there; some were parents of the youth who were speaking or performing in the band and perhaps some who had family that served in the military and then there were a few there simply because they knew that they should be there.

Finally, there were the students from the Panther Valley High School that could have been home in bed but instead, made the decision to come out and use their talents to honor and serve during the ceremony.

What really caught my attention and impressed me the most, however, were the JROTC cadets who performed double duty, representing the JROTC in full uniform while also performing in the band.

These are the same kids who, over the course of the weekend, decorated the graves of area soldiers and also attended and served during the various Memorial Day events that took place.

They are the same kids who help out at funerals and other military functions in the area at various times during the year.

They are also the same kids who raise the flag at school each day, who help set up and tear down for school programs. They maintain the 9/11 memorial at the school and do virtually anything that the school or community asks of them.

Over the years they have run food drives to collect nonperishable goods to donate to the local food pantry and have collected toys for needy kids at Christmas and prom gowns for girls who were not able to afford them.

They participate in the Dr. Seuss Read Across America program at the middle school and visit the elderly at Edgemont and at St. Luke's Hospital.

Even though they typically endure four years of teasing by being called a "pickle" at school when in uniform, they are also, quite often, the kids who end up making the decision to serve their country by joining the armed forces upon graduation.

They are good kids who learn respect, humility, honor and leadership and learn to put others before themselves through service.

All of these attributes are learned through their participation in the JROTC program at Panther Valley High School.

So to all of the kids, past and present, who have participated in the JROTC program, I give you a virtual high-five. The things you have done may not appear to be as glorious as scoring a touchdown, or being elected homecoming queen; but the truth is, your efforts are far more valuable and will create a bigger impact on the world than any of those other things ever could.

Thank you and keep up the great work!