PALM DESERT, Calif. (NNS) -- Eighteen members of USS Ronald Reagan's (CVN 76) Honor Guard/Drill Team traveled more than 150 miles from San Diego to Palm Desert, Calif., Oct. 11 to perform a drill routine during the school's renaming and dedication ceremony of the Ronald Reagan Elementary School in Palm Desert, Calif.
"The whole routine was very impressive," said Kim McLaughlin, the school's principal. "They (the honor guard/drill team) performed very well, and in my opinion will be a big reason why our students always remember this day."
Ronald Reagan Commanding Officer Capt. Terry B. Kraft served as guest speaker for the event.
"Like the USS Ronald Reagan, all of you are embarking on your own voyage," said Kraft. "A little like our Sailors, you are unsure of what lies ahead. But don't worry, in the coming years this school and these great teachers will take you places you cannot even imagine right now. The things you learn here will open doors for you for the rest of your lives, enhancing the view of our namesake that America's best years are still ahead of her."
The Ronald Reagan Elementary School dedication ceremony opened with eight members of the drill team performing a five minute exhibition of their talents. After the Sailors performed a series of rifle tosses and facing movements, six honor guard members snapped to attention and paraded the colors as school students placed their hands over their hearts while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Ronald Reagan team's performance came to a close as everyone in attendance sang the Star Spangled Banner in unison while all the young students waved small American flags.
"Our honor guard/drill team did a great job representing all the outstanding Sailors on board Ronald Reagan," said Lt. Bill Blanchard, officer-in-charge of the team. "In my opinion, the Sailors on this team aren't just your everyday Sailor; they are the 'best of the best.' Every time we perform, it's important for us to remember we are honoring our ship's namesake, because he was and is the epitome of a true American."
Also attending the dedication ceremony was California Congresswoman Mary Bono, who described the Ronald Reagan Honor Guard/Drill Team's performance as "unbelievable."
"It was a real thrill to get to see Ronald Reagan's drill team perform," said Bono. "I think the children really enjoyed everything, and hopefully, it will have a positive effect on them. Ronald Reagan was a big inspiration to me, and I think the children will be inspired by him, as well."
McLaughlin added that not only did Ronald Reagan inspire him, too, but he hopes his students take with them something from the former president's values.
"Ronald Reagan believed in peace through strength," said McLaughlin, "and I hope those are values that my students learn from this school and carry with them throughout their lives."
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.