Kansas University ROTC students will stage a 24-hour vigil at the Vietnam Memorial to honor American service veterans.
The memorial ceremony Thursday at Kansas University honoring U.S. veterans brought tears to Gordon Summers' eyes.
Fifty years ago, the end of World War II, Summers was liberated by American troops from a prisoner of war camp in Germany. The B-17 pilot had been shot down over Kiel, Germany, in June 1943.
"This is a chance to honor the veterans that I know and anyone who serves the flag," Summers said. "The sight of the flag still gets me."
Air Force ROTC cadets conducted a flag-raising ceremony on the Strong Hall lawn. The United States, Kansas and POW-MIA flags were hoisted before cadets marched a lantern to the university's Vietnam Memorial.
Weather permitting, the cadets will stage a 24-hour vigil to mark Veterans Day, which is Saturday. The annual holiday honors men and women who displayed courage, honor, sacrifice and dedication in the U.S. military.
The observance is conducted by the Arnold Air Society, an Air Force ROTC honorary and service unit.
Col. Rick Hunter, commander of Air Force ROTC, said he encouraged the students last year to discontinue the overnight observance.
"I tried to talk them out of it," he said. "The weather forecast was bad. I worried it would have an impact on their grades if there was a test the next day.
"They said, 'No sir. We want to do it.'"
Hunter said that commitment of young people to honor veterans was gratifying.
"The vigil is at the Vietnam Memorial, but it's for all veterans," he said. "It just as easily could have been conducted at the Campanile or Memorial Stadium."
He said the public should take a moment Saturday to remember the role veterans played in this country's history.
"We commemorate the sacrifices given over the years by our veterans in the name of freedom," Hunter said.