November 4, 2011 — Cadets and midshipmen from the three branches of the University of Virginia's ROTC program will conduct a 24-hour vigil honoring prisoners of war, service members missing in action and veterans on Nov. 7 and 8 on the north side of the Rotunda.
The vigil will start at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 and end at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 with a ceremony on the north steps of the Rotunda. The ceremony will include a keynote address by retired U.S. Navy Capt. Roger Herbert, a SEAL team leader.
Herbert, who retired from the Navy in September 2010, is a Ph.D. candidate in U.Va.'s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is focusing on international relations with a minor in political theory.
"Each year we host the vigil and ceremony to honor and recognize the men and women who have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country by giving up their lives and their freedom," said Air Force Cadet Cristina Sullivan, a third-year foreign affairs and Spanish major. "Through our vigil we show them they are not forgotten and remind ourselves to never stop showing our support."
The ceremony will open with the national anthem; an invocation presented by Air Force Cadet Arielle Marino, a senior at Liberty University; and introductions by the master of ceremonies, Cadet Col. Chelsea Bailey, Wing Commander, Air Force ROTC, followed by Herbert's speech. The ceremony will close with "Taps."
During the vigil, cadets from the Air Force, Navy and Army ROTC units will march in half-hour shifts to honor POW/MIAs. Cadets will also staff information stations to explain the vigil and why it is important to honor veterans.
"I hope that in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives the vigil will remind U.Va. students of what it means to be free," Sullivan said. "I hope that on their way to and from classes and around Grounds students stop and ask, 'What's going on at the Rotunda?' I hope that through our display of support students will, for at least a moment, be touched by what we are doing and remember those we honor. If we reach out and inspire something in even just one student, that's all it takes to make a difference."
Herbert is a 1983 graduate of Davidson College. He holds master's degrees in national security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School and in national security studies from the National War College.
He received his commission through Officer Candidate School in 1984 and graduated from SEAL training in 1985.
He has held several leadership positions within the SEAL program, and deployed in support of operations Just Cause (Panama), Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom. Herbert served as commanding officer of SEAL delivery vehicle team two, naval special warfare unit three in Bahrain, and the Naval Special Warfare Center.
His shore assignments include being executive assistant to the deputy commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, executive assistant to the deputy director for information operations for the joint staff and U.S. special operations command's liaison to the U.S. Coast Guard.