MONDAY, MAY 17
An incoming freshman to Oklahoma City University successfully gained approval for high school volunteers to miss class in order to honor veterans during funeral services.
Cory Johnson, who will major in music, initiated a lawmaking process that gives high school students an excused absence to participate in military veteran’s funeral ceremonies.
Senate Bill 1715 unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry last month.
"I saw this as an opportunity for high school students to get involved in their community," Johnson said.
Johnson, who graduated from Mustang High School, learned that there is a shortage of volunteer musicians who can play “Taps” at military funerals. He offered his trumpet skills to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, funeral homes and the Vietnam veteran organizations, and he called for other volunteers to do the same. He met with officials from military organizations to find out how to gain Authorized Provider Partnership Program (AP3) certification. The certification is awarded by military services to civilians who successfully complete a formal training program covering military funeral protocol.
After getting certified, Johnson still had to clear one more barrier — permission to miss school. He decided to approach his legislators to see if a state law could grant him that wish.
The bill was authored by state Sen. Ron Justice and Rep. Leslie Osborn following a meeting with Johnson and his father, Tony Johnson. It was co-authored by Sens. Clark Jolley, Kenneth Corn and Steve Russell, and with Reps. Paul Roan and Purcy Walker.
Although he will not be able to use the new law himself now that he’s in college, he and his father are hopeful that younger students will show a willingness to help honor those who gave their lives for their country.
"I hope that school principals, teachers, band directors and community leaders support and encourage their students to become involved," Tony Johnson said. "I'm very proud of what he has accomplished and am thankful that Senator Justice took the time and an interest in what Cory was attempting to do for our military personnel."