Memorial Memories

Adriana Sowder’s experiences growing up in a military family have helped her form a connection with ROTC.

Filling almost every seat, rows of smiling people were gathered together on this day of remembrance. They had come for the Veteran’s Day tribute, a holiday that brings people together to honor those who have worn the uniform of their country.

Junior Adriana Sowders, a member of RUHS’s ROTC program, was one of many who attended the event and helped to set up the ceremony. Both of Adriana’s parents retired from the Air Force recently, forcing her to move frequently as a child. In her freshman year, she settled down here in Redondo Beach

“[Joining the program after just moving here] I got to meet a ton of new people and it was really easy for us to bond. We’re all really close-knit. I honestly joined the court because I moved here my [freshman] year, so I didn’t know anyone, and it seemed like an easy way to meet people,” said Sowders.

Originally born in Florida, she moved all over to islands in the Atlantic, Utah, New Jersey, Northern California, and eventually here. She was exposed to many different cultures but having to move around so much, she was always leaving friends she would make at each base camp. However, all of the kids on the bases were in the same position, so she was able to relate with them in a way she can’t with people now that she goes to a public school.

“[Being around people who dealt with the same issues] it was cool to relate on how it’s hard to move around. As a kid, all you have is a school and friends in school and we were able to talk about that. We also constantly had new kids so they always got an easier welcoming because we knew what they were going through and because we had been in that position so many times it was a much more welcoming environment,” said Sowders.

The military bases she grew up on were so heavily guarded that her mother was never too worried about her going out. Because of this, she was able to grow up with a huge amount of independence. She was exposed to many different cultures, which help her awareness and abilities in ROTC.

“I’m grateful to contribute and even spread knowledge about the military. A lot of people are ignorant and don’t know a lot about it, so I’m grateful I’m given the knowledge to spread it to others that are so naive to the idea,” Sowders said.
She and the other people in ROTC were far from the only program to contribute to the ceremony. It was organized by the Veterans Memorial Task Force. Tom Lasser, the main speaker at the tribute and a member of the organization, spoke about what the day truly means. He as a veteran truly believes these events bring everyone together as a community.

“It connects the community to a great degree because everybody knows a veteran. Maybe your dad was a veteran, your sister was a veteran or there’s a veteran that lives across the street. It connects people with the country as a whole for all the people that have served in the military,” said Lasser.

At ceremonies like these, people can come together and try to understand the unique experiences that veterans have gone through. Lasser is an Army Veteran and his understanding comes from focusing on times during his service that he enjoyed. Some of these were amazing experiences he wouldn’t have gotten if he hadn’t served.

“I was a helicopter pilot. Some of it was flying and sightseeing. You get in a regular jet and you’re way up there and you can’t see anything. But when you get in a helicopter you can see trees and deer running through the woods, you can get close up. I’ve always told people before that I enjoyed flying because the army was paying me for the sights,” said Lasser.

Veterans Day used to be known as Remembrance Day because it was created to remember and honor what the countries’ veterans have dealt with. Although Adriana Sowders has not been in service, she utilizes the memories of her military childhood to spread awareness of its importance. 

“When I was little, I didn’t resent the military, but that was my only source to blame for why I was moving and leaving friends and having to be the new kid all the time. Now that I’m older I’m grateful I was able to move to so many places It gave me a lot of good character I wouldn’t ever trade it,” said Sowders.