SVHS Homecoming game opening ceremony dedicated to honoring fallen Marine McCollum
Homecoming Week at Star Valley High School is always something exciting and special. School spirit burns brightly in the halls, the streets, the community and the stands as students, friends and alumni gather wrapped in warm quilts and beanies to celebrate SVHS and cheer for their beloved SV Braves.
This year, however, as Star Valley prepares to face long-time rivals, the Jackson Hole High School Broncs, hearts are soft and tender.
Broncs alumnus, Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum of the United States Marine Corp, was one of 13 service members who gave their lives for freedom in a suicide bombing as they worked to aid in the evacuation of U.S. citizens and other individuals at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26 as the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan.
“Rylee was actually a good friend to some of us here in Star Valley,” Rob Erickson, Activities Director at SVHS told SVI. “We want to take an opportunity to show his family our sympathy and our gratitude.”
As a tribute to Rylee, SVHS has invited Jim McCollum, Rylee’s father, to the opening ceremonies of the Braves Homecoming Football Game as the Star Valley and Jackson communities unite in expressing sympathy to the McCollum family and gratitude for Rylee’s sacrifice.
In the opening ceremonies to the game Friday evening, American Legion Post #46 will escort Jim to the 50 yard line as they present the colors. As fans stand for the National Anthem, Jim will be surrounded by the American Flag, the Wyoming State Flag, and the flag of the U.S. Marine Corp. Thirteen additional American flags will wave on the field; six carried by Broncs team members and six carried by Braves team members, with the center flag of the thirteen held by a Bronc and a Brave together, representing combined community appreciation, gratitude and support for the 13 fallen soldiers and particularly for Rylee and his family. Students in the SVHS American Sign Language program will also sign the National Anthem from the sidelines.
At the conclusion of the flag ceremony, Jim will be escorted from the field by the football players and the game will proceed in the traditional Homecoming routine with Homecoming Royalty recognized and the Star Valley Brave Cadettes taking the field for the halftime show.
“Star Valley, please come and say thank you to the father of one of those who sacrificed his life for our freedom,” said Erickson. “I think he would appreciate knowing that people feel Rylee’s life mattered. It’s appropriate to set our rivalry [with Jackson] aside for a moment and focus on what’s truly important.”
A Venmo account has been established at Bank of Star Valley to raise funds for the McCollum Family.