MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of high school seniors from across the city and county were highlighted during the third annual “Military Salute.”

Friday, at the 50-yard line inside the Liberty Bowl, there wasn’t a football match-up. Instead, there was a military salute.

Students with Memphis Shelby County Schools who plan to enlist after graduation or those attending college on an ROTC scholarship were both acknowledged and applauded for the path they would soon take.

“Joining the military and being able to serve our country and other people of America is a greater purpose and something I am really passionate about,” said Matthew Stroud, who is joining the Army.

Stroud is already Army proud and excited about the newness, although he acknowledges there’s a bit of nervousness as well.

“My parents are very distraught about me leaving home,” Stroud said.

He will not be alone. White Station High Senior Austin McCarthy will also soon don an Army Combat Uniform.

“My dad was in the Air Force, but I am going into the Army,” McCarthy said. “It was more of something I wanted to do — I’ve had a calling to do it.”

He’s answering that call nearly 40 years after his father Randy Austin signed up to serve in the Air Force.

“He just talked more and more about it, and got involved. And he seems to love it,” Austin said. “And I’m just really proud of him that he wants to fight for our country, fight for our freedom.”

Undoubtedly there were a lot of emotions Friday, with moments of fun mixed in.

Rain or shine, it was the perfect day to celebrate more than three dozen students from across the city and county, who have made the decision to serve this country.

Those decisions are not taken lightly or for granted.

“The selfless service and protecting our country,” said Venus Austin, whose son is joining the Army. “Our nation.”