The ceremony, held annually on Veterans Day, was held early this year because the holiday falls on Sunday, said Lt. Col. Bruce Anderson, an assistant professor of military science. To honor the veterans, several speakers commended them, a wreath was dedicated to them and four Apache helicopters buzzed over Polk Place in a "missing-man" formation.
"Today we pause to thank those who have gone before," said Master of Ceremonies Julia Bryan, an Army cadet and a senior biology major.
Bryan spoke standing next to 11 chairs on the steps of South Building. Eight of the chairs were filled with veterans, each representing a war or conflict since World War II. One of the remaining empty chairs was draped with black cloth to represent those missing in action, she said.
A second empty chair represented the veterans of World War I because "we have no local veterans remaining from this war," Bryan said. The third was supposed to be filled by a soldier representing the peacekeeping mission in Yugoslavia, but he was called back to active duty -- which is a perfect representation of life in the military, Bryan said.
About 200 ROTC cadets were present in three distinct blocks -- the Army in green, the Air Force in blue and the Navy in black.
UNC Director of Athletics Dick Baddour, a retired colonel, spoke to the crowd about his 31 years of Army National Guard experience. "I'm not often referred to as a colonel on this campus," he said.
But Baddour said his time in the service played a huge role in his life -- the experience taught him leadership, loyalty and focus, qualities he's found useful in his civilian life. "As Chancellor (James) Moeser and I went out to find the new football coach, there were a lot of things going on around us, but our mission had to be to find the new football coach," he said, saying he was able to focus on that mission because of his military career.
The ceremony also honored eight survivors of the USS Growler, a World War II submarine that sunk on Nov. 8, 1944, after its crew earned two Navy Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor for sinking enemy ships in the Pacific.
Michael Jones, who enrolled at UNC in 2000, also won $250 and the Veterans Academic Achievement Award for earning a 4.0 grade point average, the highest in all three divisions of the UNC ROTC. The award is given annually to a student veteran who attended college using the Montgomery GI Bill. Jones was a senior airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro before he came to UNC.