Texas A&M University-Commerce’s 22nd Annual Veteran’s Vigil opening ceremony was held at 10 am on November 6 at the Rayburn Student Center. A&M-Commerce President Dan Jones spoke at the event as well as several veterans.
The ceremony began with the presentation and posting of colors by the Greenville High School NJROTC Color Guard. The National Anthem was sung by Aubrey England, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp.
The invocation was given by Dr. Joseph Webber, Chief Warrant Officer-5, U.S. Marine Corps, Ret. Following him, President Jones welcomed everyone to the event.
“Thank all of you for being a part of this very special ceremony,” said President Jones. “It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this day and a half event. This is something we look forward to all year long, and we all rejoice in it. This event brings people together to pay our solemn respects to those who have served and continue to serve our country so nobly and so well. It is a time of contemplation, a time of reverence, and a time to recognize service at the very highest and most meaningful level. Professor Mayo wove into the founding of this institution almost 125 years ago, the term ‘unselfish service to others.’ Each of us carries that commitment. No one exemplifies that commitment to service at a higher level than our active duty military and our veterans.”
Vernon McGee, Warrant Officer, Coast Guard, Ret. presented President Jones with a plaque to honor past, present and future veterans. McGee is one of eight individuals who have served in all five branches of the military, and has presented over 122 of these plaques to court houses, churches, hospitals and universities in five states.
“I would like to remind the students, that every generation before you has been called on to defend the freedoms we have in this country, and you will be no exception,” said McGee. “No greater honor can be had by anyone than service to others and service to this country.”
Next, Derryle Peace, Director of Alumni Relations, presented the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) Memorial Scholarship to Jill Mobley, A&M-Commerce graduate student and Student Chair of the 2013 Veteran’s Vigil Committee.
“I am very proud of this university and everything that each division does to make this university a better place for our students, our veterans and our faculty and staff,” said Mobley. “They go above and beyond to make this place our home for however long we’re here.”
John Turner, Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy, Ret. and Commander of the Disabled American Veterans post in Greenville spoke about working with disabled veterans.
“I consider this a deep honor to speak for the disabled veterans,” said Turner. “This has been my passion since I retired. Around forty-five percent of veterans returning from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq are filing for disabilities. I consider every veteran who wore a uniform disabled, whether they served for 90 days or 30 years, because their families and their lives were disrupted. We need to make it known that veterans are out there who need help.”
The procession then went outside, and the Vigil Flame was lit by Victoria Davis, Sergeant, U.S. Army Ret. The Vigil Flame is lit to honor POW/MIA’s as well as veterans and fallen soldiers of all wars and conflicts.
A guard will be posted until the vigil flame is extinguished at the closing ceremony on November 7 at 4:30 pm.
For more information on the Veteran’s Vigil, go to http://bit.ly/1cF0HrI.