Milton High School NJROTC cadets picked up shovels and rakes to offer a helping hand to the Milton Cemetery on Wednesday, spending hours working the grounds.
Around 20 cadets sacrificed their day, working the 16 acres and around 4,000 graves of the cemetery in several small groups, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Dyer. Each group had a leader who would take the lead and assign responsibilities to the others.
"I think they enjoyed the hard work in teams," Dyer said. "It's shared hardship and sacrifice. It helps build the team."
The cadets lent a hand with various landscaping duties from mowing grass, raking and weed-eating. The cadets bagged leaves and picked weeds in the summer sun and heat.
"Our primary focus as NJROTC is citizenship development," Dyer said. "We teach them patriotism and how to give back to the community."
The community service project with the cemetery fell in conjunction with new-cadet orientation. Cadets were introduced to the program and what it entails last week, according to Dyer.
"Everybody has an opportunity for leadership in NJROTC," Dyer said. "There's no other program on campus that offers more leadership opportunities."
NJROTC cadets donate their time to various community efforts. This weekend, the cadets will be helping during the High Five Nationwide Tour in support of the Wounded Warriors Family Support in Pensacola. Dyer says the cadets are instrumental in providing labor and support for school events, saving the school a lot of money in the process.
"Last year, we did close to 5,000 hours of community service," Dyer said. "There's a lot of give back to the community. I don't think we're noticed enough as what the cadets do in the community."
Milton Cemetery is a non-profit, historical burial ground run by volunteer hours. Manager Bill Bledsoe said was proud of the NJROTC giving some of their summer-vacation hours to help manicure the cemetery grounds.
"The NJROTC helps out two to three times a year," Bledsoe said. "During the school year, we usually have 55 to 60 cadets. Can you imagine 60 times 10 dollars an hour? That's a lot of manpower."