Cadets and midshipmen from the University of Virginia’s ROTC units will hold a 24-hour vigil to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action, starting Monday at 3 p.m. in the McIntire Amphitheater.
The vigil will be followed by a ceremony marking Veteran’s Day on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Timothy Ghormley will speak on the plight of veterans today.
“We hold this vigil and ceremony every year to honor those who have gone missing or been captured while serving in our country’s defense,” said Air Force Cadet Caleb Gill, deputy squadron commander of the Arnold Air Society at U.Va.’s Air Force ROTC unit. “We conduct this vigil as a reminder that we do not forget their sacrifices, summed up in the simple yet powerful motto written on the POW/MIA flag, ‘You are not forgotten.’”
Ninety-six cadets and midshipmen will participate in the vigil, with groups of four rotating every hour, silently marching throughout the duration. Cadets and midshipmen also will staff a table in the amphitheater to answer questions about the vigil and distribute flyers about American POWs and MIAs.
“This vigil is meant to be a visual reminder that there are members of America’s military who have never come home; those for whom we will always wait,” Gill said. “We believe that it’s extremely important to remember the past, as we look forward to the future.”
The vigil-ending ceremony also will feature a joint color guard and a flag-folding ritual. Members of the Charlottesville and Albemarle Post No. 74 of the American Legion will provide a 21-gun salute and a quartet of cadets and midshipmen will sing the national anthem.
Ghormley, who retired in 2007, joined the Marine Corps in 1967 and served in the Vietnam War. At various times, he has been a squadron executive officer, a command duty officer, an assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower and reserve affairs, inspector general of the Marine Corps and commanding general of the 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He assisted the army of Macedonia in preparing for NATO membership and worked at the Department of Homeland Security as a program manager. Ghormley now lives in Nokesville, where he is in the process of starting Asher Farms LLC.
Also Tuesday, the University of Virginia Military Veterans Networking Community will host a free buffet lunch from noon to 2 p.m. at the Newcomb Hall Ballroom for faculty and staff members who are veterans. Guest speakers for the event include Leonard Sandridge, U.Va.’s former executive vice president and chief operating officer; and Capt. Mark Black, commanding officer of the U.Va. Naval ROTC program. The organizers request attendees to RSVP for the event here.