Boots on Broadway: Honor military at Saturday event

Since my sister grew up watching “High School Musical” and choreographing ballet dances in our living room, her chosen direction in college seemed obvious.

Instead, she joined Army ROTC.

We didn’t know how to react.

My mom was cautiously ambivalent, while my dad took the announcement as a cue to single-handedly purchase every ROTC-related bumper sticker and coffee cup in the nation. His face remains on many gift shops’ “most wanted” lists.

Meanwhile, I listened to my sister’s news during an unexpected immersion into military life.

I came to Columbus with no military knowledge. That changed almost immediately.

Fort Benning’s influence gave me female friends well-versed in the art of handling a significant other’s deployment. I filled our newspaper’s entertainment calendars with many events that aimed to honor members of the military and their families.

Among those events: Boots on Broadway, which comes to downtown Columbus on Saturday.

The free military heritage celebration includes giveaways for military personnel, a car show, children’s activities and music by acts like The World is Quiet Here, Iron Mics and Boneheadz.

UPtown Columbus will provide 300 free barbecue lunches to soldiers in uniform and their families. Soldiers not in uniform will be asked to show military ID.

Peruse Saturday’s crowd and you’ll easily find someone who can direct you to Ranger Joe’s, or give you instructions for shipping care packages overseas.

I got those lessons upon moving to Columbus and figured they’d permanently stay in the “bonus trivia” corner of my mind.

That is, until my sister ended up at United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning.

When she visited me on weekends, she filled my washing machine with sweat-decorated apparel. The girl who once collected tutus now spoke in military time and flaunted a consistent array of bruises. She taught me how little I actually knew about Fort Benning.

Entry at an incorrect access point made us lost enough to convince my sister she’d miss curfew and end her military career.

She arrived with two minutes to spare.

I soon found myself at her Airborne School graduation, shielding my dad from another gift shop overdose.

And as I congratulated my sister, I grew keenly aware that with one girl’s desire to fly, the knowledge you once regarded as bonus trivia can become a daily reality.

Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at ssorich@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8516.

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