A combination of military tradition and camaraderie among peers, friends and family happened Friday at the 3rd-annual Joint Military Ball. The formal event welcomed more than 250 guests, including cadets and cadre, to the Grand 1401 in downtown Fresno.
“It took months of planning with myself and cadet April Stahl from the Air Force,” said Chris Cooper of the Army ROTC. “It was good to see all of our hard work pay off. Everyone seemed to have a good time.”
Cooper and Stahl were the Army and Air Force coordinators of the event. Guests in attendance who are not in the military received a short glimpse of what an armed services lifestyle is like. A slideshow played in the background throughout most of the night.
“It was definitely fun because they had raffles and everyone was socializing,” said Ashley Dunkin, Cooper’s guest.
The event started with a posting of the colors. From there, the prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA) event was commenced. A hat from each branch of the military was placed on a table to commemorate the POW’s along with various items, each with a symbolic meaning.
“It also had some seriousness to it where they address the prisoners of war and they had a whole table set up, and everything looked really nice,” Dunkin said. “It was a nice perspective seeing the Air Force and Army joining together for a fun night with some seriousness.”
At first glance, one may have thought the table was merely decorative. In reality, it held a great deal of hidden meaning. The white tablecloth symbolized the purity of the intentions of all servicemen and servicewomen to protect their country. One candle was burning on the table, symbolizing the frailty of a lone prisoner.
Aside from the serious setting, those in attendance took time to participate in some fun activities. Around 10 p.m., names of Army and Air Force cadets were thrown into a hat to be selected at random. The selectee was required to come to the front of the stage and dance their best to a hip-hop song. An Army cadet won.
A karaoke competition was the next festivity, and the winner was determined by the roar of the crowd. After that, the night came to a conclusion with formal dancing.
“I brought my girlfriend,” said Lorenzo Llorente of the Army ROTC. “My dad was a featured guest because he is in the Army also, so that was a cool part of it. Other than that, it was good interacting with the Air Force.”