The Bell Tower rang out 11 times at 11:11 a.m. Friday, an unusual commemoration for current and former military servicemen who attended UNC’s Veterans Day ceremony.
The University’s Naval ROTC hosted the ceremony, which featured about 80 ROTC cadets and midshipmen in formal dress, and about 15 veterans from Chapel Hill and the surrounding area.
The event, which was held at the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service between Phillips and Memorial halls.
It was sponsored by the Naval ROTC in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences and its peace, war and defense program.
“Many past veterans and current active duty military have ties to UNC, all the way from general officers and admirals to newly-commissioned ensigns and second lieutenants,” said Navy Capt. Doug Wright, who spoke at the ceremony.
Wright is a professor of naval science for the N.C. Piedmont Consortium Naval ROTC — which governs ROTC programs at UNC, North Carolina State University and Duke University.
“The selflessness of our servicemen is unmatched,” he said. “We owe them a debt of honor.”
About 375 UNC students currently use veterans’ benefits to attend the University.
The benefits provide funding for veterans and the children of veterans to continue their education.
Wright’s speech included a history of Veterans Day and a recognition of UNC veterans who have served since World War II.
Wright commanded the USS Helena, and most recently served as the commodore of Submarine Squadron 15 based in Guam. He was awarded a Legion of Merit award for that command.
Chapel Hill resident and World War II veteran Richard Zieger said he would like more to be done to inform people about the importance of the day.
“There should be more services held in schools, so students can realize what veterans did for our freedom,” Zieger said.
“I’m glad to see some organizations still have a memory of the armed forces,” he said.
Invitations were sent out to all veterans in the Chapel Hill area.
Junior Assistant Operations Officer for the Naval ROTC Kristen Taulbee collaborated with Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC to plan the ceremony.
“We are trying to honor all the veterans because we respect them for what they have done for us, and we’re trying to uphold them,” Taulbee said.
The responsibility of organizing the event rotates among the three ROTC programs on campus, she said, adding that Friday’s ceremony attracted a larger audience than last year’s event.
Senior Battalion Executive Officer for the Naval ROTC Patrick Willis said Veterans Day serves an important function.
“It helps us remember those that fought for our country and what they sacrificed,” he said.
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