Cadets and midshipmen from the University of Virginia’s ROTC units held a 24-hour vigil Monday and Tuesday in the McIntire Amphitheater to remember American prisoners of war and those missing in action.
The vigil ended Tuesday afternoon with a ceremony honoring all veterans. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Paul S. Wilson, commander of the Army Legal Services Agency and a graduate of the UVA School of Law, was the keynote speaker. Among his posts, Wilson served as the director of the Center for Law and Military Operations at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville.
“The opportunity to remember and honor all the veterans who have served before us is an amazing honor and very personally inspiring to me,” said Air Force Cadet Katherine Krawietz, deputy squadron commander, an Arnold Air Society cadet captain and an organizer of the annual event. “The sacrifices that men and women in the military make each and every day are very easy to forget because they handle it with such grace and selflessness, but they are what allows us to enjoy the freedoms we have here at home. Soldiers serving overseas currently, those who have served previously, and especially those who have not returned home deserve our greatest thanks and remembrance.”
Ninety-six cadets and midshipmen participated in the vigil, in groups of four rotating every hour, silently marching throughout the duration. The vigil also featured a display of service flags, including the POW/MIA flag. Approximately 300 cadets and midshipmen participated in the veteran’s ceremony that followed.
“We hold this vigil to give ourselves and our fellow students an opportunity to recognize and reflect on serving others and sacrifice,” Krawietz said. “It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of these veterans and serve my country in the United States military.”
Ninety-six cadets and midshipmen from the University’s ROTC contingents marched through the night Monday into Tuesday morning to honor U.S. service members who had been held prisoner or disappeared while serving.
Members of the Charlottesville and Albemarle Post No. 74 of the American Legion provided a 21-gun salute for Tuesday’s veterans’ ceremony.
Cadets participate in a missing man joint table ceremony, a traditional POW/MIA ritual in which cadets and midshipmen set the table with symbolic items for those who are missing
During the presentation of the colors, Cadets Eva Bogdewic and Rebecca Melton from the Army ROTC program, Midshipman Ryan Koontz from the Naval ROTC program and Cadet Grey Davenport from the Air Force ROTC program sang the national anthem.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Paul S. Wilson, commander of the Army Legal Services Agency and a graduate of the UVA School of Law, was the keynote speaker at the concluding ceremony.