Veteran’s Day vigil honors veterans throughout the world

By Brian Bevilacqua


University of Massachusetts Army and Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) took to Memorial Hall on Friday to spend the chilly fall afternoon holding vigil to the millions of veterans who have fought in sweltering and freezing conditions throughout the world to advance the interests of the United States.

Dozens of student cadets, along with their superior officers, came to the center of campus to continue the university’s decades-old tradition of honoring the nation’s veterans before Veteran’s Day, the national holiday paying tribute to military service.

The vigil began with the presentation of the American flag and a moment a silence for American veterans present at the ceremony and throughout the world.

Former UMass assistant professor of military science Lt. Col. John Driscoll then stood and delivered an address praising his fellow soldiers, describing the challenges individuals in military service face, knowing they may have to give their lives for their nation. He cited his own experience, knowing soldiers in combat must rely on their “altruism,” or sometimes just “doing the job so you can go home,” but either way finding the strength to continue fighting.

Driscoll also stressed wide age range of veterans and how the patriotism of these many different veterans must bring us together as a society. He quoted Ronald Reagan, who said “freedom is only one generation away from extinction.”

“A veteran is a mirror of our past of who we were and who we are today,” Driscoll said. If we continue to support our veterans, he said, then “there is no one who can take our place and lead the world…This is what these ceremonies tell our veterans, that we got your back.”

After these remarks the ROTC cadets fired a 21-gun salute, laid a wreath of flowers at the American flag to honor fallen troops and one Army and one Air Force ROTC cadet took their position to guard the flag. Another pair of cadets proceeded to rotate guarding the flag for 12 hours, paying tribute to their heroes. The vigil closed with the reminder that veterans are all around us and should be supported.

Brian Bevilacqua can be reached at [email protected]