ROTC cadets at Kansas University begin an annual 24-hour vigil for Veterans Day that will last through 4 p.m. today at the Vietnam Memorial on campus.
Braving wind gusts of more than 40 mph in chilly temperatures, members of Kansas University's Reserve Officer Training Corps programs on Tuesday began a 24-hour tribute to missing soldiers.
"In this ceremony, we reaffirm our commitment to those who are missing and commit our efforts to obtaining their fate," said Lt. Col. Anthony Gasbarre, a decorated veteran and commanding officer of KU's Army ROTC program.
"Americans will never forget those who sacrificed ... for liberty and freedom," he said.
Gasbarre made the remarks Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony in front of Strong Hall. About 100 KU ROTC cadets stood at attention during the event.
Following Gasbarre's comments, the U.S., POW/MIA and Kansas flags were ceremoniously lowered from a flagpole and officers lighted an oil lamp.
The lamp was then carried along Jayhawk Boulevard to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial on Memorial Drive.
ROTC cadets will stand watch over the lamp at the memorial through 4 p.m. today. Cadets will take one-hour shifts during the vigil.
Gasbarre said the ceremony was one of the most important events for military members at KU.
"It's real important. We do this in conjunction with Veterans Day," he said. "It allows us to take time out and reflect on their sacrifices."
Gasbarre said that in addition to those in Vietnam, there are missing or imprisoned soldiers in Laos, Cambodia, Tibet, Korea and many other countries.
"There's a continuing effort to repatriate those who are missing," he said.
The 24-hour vigil has been held at KU each year since 1983, ROTC members said.
The theme of this year's event is "Freedom is not Free."
It is organized by the Arnold Air Society, a professional and community service organization of Air Force ROTC cadets.
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.