As we all know, Veteran’s Day was this past weekend, so in light of my participation in Embry-Riddle’s activities to support our veterans I would like to tell you about how Embry-Riddle honors our veterans every year. As a little side note, there are a few hundred veterans on campus as well as a few hundred Air Force and Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets. The campus is very military friendly.
The experience was extremely rewarding and the activities that I was a part of this past weekend will be the most notable memories of my freshman year. I am a member of the Detachment 028 Air Force ROTC Honor Guard Team, which is basically the military group that presents the colors before football games and at other various types of ceremonies. Each year the Honor Guard Team and the other teams in the Detachment 028 Honor Corps go to the Prescott Veteran’s Memorial Hospital and conduct a 24 hour vigil around the flag. This year’s vigil was my first time performing as an active member of the Honor Guard. Just being able to stand at attention and endure a mostly sleepless night for the sake of vigil was an incredible experience. It really made me think about why I had chosen to become a member of the team and why I had put in so many long hours at practice when other cadets hadn’t.
The reason is this: millions of people died to protect our freedoms, an almost equal amount have endured incredible hardships as prisoners of war, and countless others have been labeled as missing in action. These brave young men and women never got to say a final goodbye to their families, never got to see their homes again, and because of their sacrifice they must never be forgotten.
This is so important to me as a freshman in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps because I know that I will be the next in line to take up the defense of this country. Being a participant in Vigil really changed my viewpoint. I appreciated veterans before but when I stood guarding the flag as a symbolic representation of those who took up arms in its defense, I truly came to understand the magnitude of the hardships my predecessors had undergone.
I can honestly say that if I had not decided to come to Embry-Riddle I would not have had the opportunity to stand vigil and I would not have grown from the experience like I did that weekend. This freshman year has been an amazing growing process and my Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps commitments have truly helped me mature. I have made a ton of great friends along the way and become a part of the family that I call the Honor Guard. When I need help with school work they are there, and if I’m having a bad day they are there too. I have found a home away from home at Embry-Riddle and I hope that you will too!