ROTC students, military personnel stand guard for 24 hours to honor Veterans Day
Jackson Oxler | Wednesday, November 13, 2019
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, making Nov. 11 a national holiday to celebrate and honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States military. That day was celebrated at Notre Dame on Monday as well.
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Notre Dame honors America’s veterans each year by standing guard at the Clarke Memorial Fountain and by hosting a ceremony to conclude the vigil service. Beginning Monday at 4:30 p.m., ROTC officers began standing guard at the Clarke Memorial Fountain, more commonly known as Stonehenge. Students from each of the three branches took shifts for 30 minutes throughout the night and continuing into Tuesday afternoon. The guard lasted a full 24 hours, and despite the snow and cold, the students honored those whose steps they will follow.
At the concluding ceremony to end the vigil, ROTC faculty, cadets, midshipmen, veterans and members of the Notre Dame community gathered to celebrate the holiday. Senior and army cadet Maria Burgess served as emcee for the service and introduced Brigadier General (BG) Joseph Ricciardi, the Deputy Commanding General of the 81st Readiness Division.
Before becoming a Deputy Commanding General, Ricciardi was a professor of military science at Notre Dame. He said his time at Notre Dame helped him understand the importance of the relationship between the University and the armed forces.
Ricciardi thanked past veterans, service members and the ROTC students for their commitment to freedom. He also offered thoughts on the importance of freedom and those who fight to protect it.
“Today we also honor tomorrow’s veterans: those that will soon be part of the 0.04% of Americans that serve vigilantly around the world to allow the other 99.96% of Americans to sleep comfortably at night,” Ricciardi said.
To thank Ricciardi for attending the ceremony and for his service, Notre Dame ROTC presented him with a plaque. Burgess also offered a few words on the meaning behind the holiday and why it is celebrated each year.
“Veterans Day is intended to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military, in wartime or peacetime,” Burgess said. “In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served, not only those who died, have sacrificed and done their duty. In keeping with this tradition, today’s ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who serve in the United States Armed forces.”
Following their remarks, each of the three ROTC branches stood with other service men and women from their respective branches and sang their service songs. To conclude the ceremony, they played Taps to honor fallen veterans.
“It is tradition at such ceremonies as this to play taps as final respect for those veterans who fought so bravely, and have given their lives in defense of our nation,” Burgess said. “While Taps is played, let us recall those whose efforts to protect our freedom caused them to pay the ultimate sacrifice.”