November 8, 2011
A time to honor: Army, Air Force ROTC cadets taking part in Veterans Day activities
Conducting a silent vigil and organizing a parade are just some of the ways cadets from Kansas State University's Army and Air Force ROTC units will honor veterans as part of Veterans Day activities, Friday, Nov. 11, in Manhattan.
The Wildcat Battalion, the university's Army ROTC unit, will conduct setup and staging for Manhattan's Veterans Day Parade, which starts at 9:30 a.m. on Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan. A contingent of cadets from the battalion will also march in the parade, which usually has around 80 entries, including floats, marchers and vehicles.
Cadets from Detachment 270, the university's Air Force ROTC unit, will conduct a 24-hour silent guard in observance of Veterans Day. The vigil, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on campus, starts at 12 a.m. Nov. 11.
By assisting with the parade, the Army ROTC cadets want to show their support for the generations of veterans who have served this country.
"Honoring our veterans is one of the most important things we do in the development of our future leaders," said Lt. Col. Scott Bridegam, head of the university's department of military sciences and Army ROTC program. "It gives them a sense of the legacy that they are about to carry on and at the same time offers a leadership opportunity to coordinate such a large, important and worthwhile event."
Bridegam said that the parade also is a way for the cadets to show support for Manhattan and the surrounding communities.
"This is a huge community outreach opportunity for our cadets that gives them a chance to give back to such a supportive and military inclusive community like Manhattan and the greater Flint Hills area," he said.
The university's Army ROTC program has been involved with the Veterans Day parade for more than 10 years, with more than 75 cadets assisting with last year's parade. Members of the Wildcat Battalion will be in the east parking lot of Manhattan Town Center from 6 a.m. to noon to assist with the event.
Detachment 270's 24-hour vigil also has become a tradition for the Air Force ROTC program.
"This is at least the fifth straight year the Air Force cadets have honored these fallen K-State Vietnam War veterans," said Lt. Col. Ed Meyer, head of the university's department of aerospace studies and Air Force ROTC.
Cadets from the detachment's Arnold Air Society will conduct the 24-hour silent guard, led by Tanner Heaton, a junior in marketing and economics from Salina. Other cadets from Detachment 270 also will be involved.
Participating cadets will each stand at attention for one-hour increments.
"The cadets who stand at attention gain more appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our nation's POW/MIA service members," Heaton said. "Standing at attention means no movement whatsoever; hands pinned to the side, legs together and eyes caged straight ahead. This is just a small token of appreciation that we can give to those who have given their lives for us."
The 24-hour guard also fosters a sense of duty among the participating cadets.
"It's a tradition for the Arnold Air Society to honor those who have served our country. The 24-hour silent guard is just one of our events to give back to those who have given us so much more," Heaton said.