ROTC hosts Veterans Day ceremony

Members of the ROTC stand at attention outside of the Armory on Thursday during the ROTC Veterans Day Ceremony, which granted past and future veterans a chance to interact and share stories. Erica Magda

Members of the ROTC stand at attention outside of the Armory on Thursday during the ROTC Veterans Day Ceremony, which granted past and future veterans a chance to interact and share stories. Erica Magda

By Brittany Abeijon

Cadets and midshipmen from the University’s Army, Air Force and Naval ROTC gathered in a ceremony Thursday outside the Armory. Preceding Veterans Day on Nov. 11, ROTC honored veterans that served, and who are serving, the nation.

This was the first year that the University sanctioned the ceremony as an official event put on by the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC. Employees could attend the ceremony during the normal work day without being penalized.

Employees were allowed to take up to one hour to attend without taking leave or with prior approval of their supervisors.

“It’s not a big deal, this is simply the first year we ever asked,” said Kent Kraus, staff member of the University Army ROTC.

Kraus said the Veterans Day ceremony typically consists of about 30 to 40 people, but the ROTC wanted more involvement this year by inviting veterans in the community to attend.

“The University has been very supportive,” Kraus said. “The reason we want veterans here is because all these kids standing in formation will be veterans someday, and we want to keep the tradition going.”

Retired Brig. Gen. Jack H. Kotter, a University alumnus, was the ceremony’s guest speaker. Kotter graduated from the University ROTC program in 1963, and is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve. He had active duty assignments in Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm.

Kotter said he thinks the men and women in uniform have been the strength of this country.

“Our veterans have taken the idea of a free nation, and turned it into the reality of a free nation,” Kotter said.

He spoke on behalf of veterans and said they are the “foundation of our nation.”

Brandon Simmons, senior in LAS and cadet Army battalion commander, decided to hold the ceremony outdoors for the first time.

“We wanted to do things differently than years past,” Simmons said. “Usually it is inside the Armory, but we wanted to get publicity and exposure to regular students that are walking by.”

Simmons said the ceremony has been traditionally planned and run by the Navy, but this year the Navy asked the Army to plan the event due to scheduling conflicts.

A small reception was held in the Armory immediately following the ceremony to give older and newer generations of the military a chance to interact.

“We want cadets that will be leaders in the future to talk with people who have served already,” Simmons said. “Veterans like telling stories and this is a great opportunity to do that.”