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ROTC run to celebrate 100 years of leadership, service

ROTC run will celebrate 100 year anniversary.In 1916, only a year away from entering World War I, the United States began expansion of its Army and National Guard with the National Defense Act. The act not only strengthened existing military, but also created the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the Junior ROTC. On April 24, Nebraskans will celebrate the 100th anniversary of ROTC and JROTC with a race at Lake Zorkinsky in Omaha.

For Omaha Public Schools JROTC director Lt. Col. Michael DeBolt, the programs serve as pillars of the community. “We develop young people to be better citizens,” he said of JROTC.

The run will honor Heartland Medal of Honor recipients, with three Nebraska families of recipients to be honored that day.

Proceeds from the run will go toward building a wall bearing names of 104 airborne Medal of Honor recipients at Heartland of America Park in downtown Omaha.

The race is open to the public and registration is $20. Participants can sign up for the race by searching “Medal of Honor Run” on

With 1200 students participating in JROTC in OPS, and many in Bellevue, Council Bluffs, Boys Town and Lincoln, many students will be on hand to help. Creighton University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln ROTC students will participate as well.

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with the Sarpy Serenaders’ performance of a patriotic melody followed by skydivers from Lincoln. Congressman Brad Ashford, state senator Tommy Garrett and Omaha City councilman Franklin Thompson will speak at the event.

The 7km race (approximately 4.3 miles) starts at 9 a.m., covering half of Lake Zorkinsky. JROTC and ROTC members will compete for team awards based on members’ times in the race.

The race celebrates ROTC’s core component of physical fitness says DeBolt. The race will be held not only in Omaha, but nationwide. All 2400 JROTC high schools and 600 ROTC universities are invited to participate in runs in the effort to earn a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people to participate in a run on a single day.

The run also serves as a platform for community service, citizenship and the importance of military service.

“It’s important that our students here, they learn history, they learn the role the military played, they make important decisions and generally understand they’re critical to the success as they move forward,” DeBolt said.

The full schedule of events at Lake Zorinsky (156th and F streets) is as follows:

7:30 a.m. Registration opens 8:30 a.m. Sarpy Serenaders perform patriotic melody
8:40-8:45 a.m. Lincoln skydivers, Sarpy Serenaders sing national anthem
8:43 a.m. All school color guard
8:45-9:00 a.m. Congressman Brad Ashford speaks, state senator Tommy Garrett reads state proclamation declaring April 24 as ROTC day in Nebraska, Franklin Thompson reads proclamation declaring April 24 as ROTC day in the city of Omaha, Lt. Col. Michael DeBolt of Omaha Public Schools speaks
9:00 a.m. Flyover
9:00 a.m. 7km race begins
10:00 a.m. Awards Ceremony for top three male and female racers, and top three schools
10:10 a.m. Picnic

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