‘A special moment’ to honor veterans

Service members have played a crucial role in American society since the very beginning and should be recognized each and every day, a retired Army Reserve major general told the Carolina community gathered on campus Friday to celebrate Veterans Day.

“Since the first shots at Lexington and Concord were fired and our Revolutionary War began, American men and women have answered our nation’s call to duty,” said retired Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Peggy Wilmoth. “Millions have fought and died on battlefields here and abroad to defend our freedom.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recognized the important role of its veterans and active-duty service members Nov. 10 during the Tar Heel Tribute and the Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony at the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service.

Carolina’s celebration began with the Tar Heel Tribute breakfast at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. The fourth annual event was sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Division of Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement, including Diversity and Inclusion, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, and the Office of Human Resources.

The celebration honors the University’s students, faculty and staff who served in the military and featured remarks by Chancellor Carol L. Folt; Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement; student-veteran Frankie Burgos; and keynote speaker Derek Kemp, associate vice chancellor for Campus Safety and Risk Management.

On behalf of the “entire Tar Heel nation,” Folt thanked the veterans for their service to their country and to the Carolina community.

“We’re grateful for all you do,” she said to the veterans. “Our commitment as a University to the men and women who serve continues to grow.”

Donning their dress uniforms, students and faculty of University’s ROTC programs paid tribute to Carolina’s veterans and active-duty service members during the annual ceremony near Memorial Hall.

“I, like every service member, serve because I love this great nation,” said Maj. Shane Doolan, a professor of military science. “I serve because I love my family and my friends. And I serve because we love our freedoms and we’ll defend it to the end. … This is really a special moment. We should take this time to really honor all of our veterans.”

Wilmoth, the executive dean and associate dean of academic affairs at the UNC School of Nursing, served as the event’s keynote speaker. During her 35-year military career, Wilmoth became the first nurse — and first woman — to serve as the deputy surgeon general for the Army Reserve.

In her remarks, Wilmoth discussed how generations of veterans — from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts — have sacrificed to keep the United States moving forward by defending its citizens.

“Without our Veterans, America would not be America,” she said.

While holidays such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day honor the men and women who have served in the military, Wilmoth said, it is important for American citizens to recognize their service members every day.

“It is important to remember that veterans are defending us 365 days a year,” she said. “That heroism has been demonstrated time and time again by veterans from the American Revolution to the Global War on Terrorism. That is sometimes unnoticed by the 99 percent who enjoy the security of the sacrifices our veterans provide.”

Photos by Jon Gardiner, video by Aaron Moger and story by Brandon Bieltz, University Communications
Published Nov. 10, 2017