The American flag flew at half-staff Friday as students, veterans, the ETSU Board of Trustees and members of the community gathered for the Veterans’ Day Ceremony in the Quad.
Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs Tony Banchs made a clear point that we stand in honor of our veterans and in honor of what the United States flag symbolizes.
“You notice that several of us stood up when our service song was played and that’s a tradition—that we stand” Banchs said.
Banchs informed the audience that there are 600 military students at ETSU and that only seven percent of the American population serves in the military and defends the freedom and constitution that we all live under. He reminded the crowd that Veterans Day is a day to recognize and thank all men and women who served and who are currently serving to defend the United States Constitution and the rights that we all have as Americans.
“What is it that veterans have done exactly? I encourage you to respond with this line: Around the world, veterans have broken the shackles of tyranny, smashed the chains of bondage and freed entire nations from oppression,” Banchs said.
Christopher Guffey, President of Student Veterans of America at ETSU and and a United States Marine, gave a moving testimony about what Veterans Day means to him.
“Veterans Day to me is very near and dear to my heart. The American flag to me,” Guffey said while pointing to the flag with emotion in his voice, “has been established for so long now as a symbol of freedom. That symbol of freedom is not free. It was paid for. Countless lives lost.”
The distinguished speaker of the event was Brigadier General Rodney Fogg from Castlewood, Virginia. Fogg was introduced as having an overwhelming number of awards and honors, countless engagements and a commanding career at every level of the United States military.
“Veterans want nothing more than for their service to count, for their sacrifices to be rewarded by a nation that is strong and prosperous, for Americans to feel free to practice any religion they want to, to go to school and to attend East Tennessee State University if they want to, to have the weekends off like this one and to relax and enjoy it with their families,” said Fogg.
Fogg issued a charge to all those in attendance to make the most of the sacrifice of so many throughout our nation’s history. “So let’s live our lives to the best of our ability and say thank you to those veterans past and present who paid the price,” Fogg said.
The ceremony concluded with a wreath being placed on the veterans’ memorial as Taps echoed around Gilbreath Hall.