24-hour vigil launches the 31st Veterans Week

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COLUMBIA – The 31st Veterans Week organized by the University of Missouri began Friday with a 24-hour vigil near the war memorials in front of the Boone County Courthouse.

At 11:11 a.m. Friday, cadet Nate Elking, the special projects officer, officially launched the Veterans Week, saying, “Our vigil of honor will now begin. The one-hour shifts are in observance of the continued service and sacrifice of our past Veterans and to our future service members.”

Cadets from the Army and Air Force and midshipmen from the Navy will take turns guarding the memorials to honor all those of have served or who are currently serving.

“We’re all students. A lot of us haven’t served yet. It’s not an act of duty. We are just honoring those who have served and we are super proud to be able to have this opportunity to serve in a few years," cadet Nate Elking said.

The guard imitates the one at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier that occurs 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in Washington D.C.

“It brings an amount of pride and also sorrow for those we’ve lost, but mainly proud to be able to do something like that”, Elking said.

The vigil will conclude Saturday morning when the annual Veterans parade arrives at the Boone County Court House columns. After the parade, Col. John Clark will give a speech. Clark graduated from the University of Missouri through the ROTC Air Force program. During the Vietnam War, Clark had to eject from his plane and was immediately captured and taken as a prisoner of war. He spent 2170 days in captivity.

The University of Missouri, especially the Air Force ROTC, hosts all the Veterans Week. Throughout Friday November 4 to Saturday November 12, several activities will be organized.

Air cadet Brianne Caldwell said, “It’s awesome for us to do this for the community. As ROTC cadets, it’s great for us to give back. I feel it grounds us. It let us know where we are coming from, the people who came before us. It just gives back to the community.”