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A “thank you” to all who have served

A crowd gathered for the University’s annual Veterans Day ceremony to honor the men and women who have served in the military.

A crowd gathered outside Memorial Hall on Monday to honor the men and women who served our country.

The UNC-Chapel Hill’s Air Force ROTC hosted the University’s annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service to recognize the service and sacrifice of the community’s veterans. The ceremony followed the sixth annual Tar Heel Tribute, which celebrated the courage and commitment of students, faculty and staff who serve or have served in the military.

Amid Carolina veterans and service members dressed in uniform, Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz took the podium to express gratitude for their service.

“We remember and honor Tar Heels who have given their lives to military service,” Guskiewicz said. “While this is a solemn day of remembrance, it is also a special day to say thank you. Carolina’s veterans and military-affiliated students, faculty and staff deeply embody our mission of service to others.”

Keynote speaker retired Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, former commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, shared his perspectives from more than 35 years of military service.

“It really is a privilege and an honor for me to be able to join you here today as we remember the dedication, heroic deeds and selflessness of the millions of Americans who have served in military uniform,” Hamel said.

From the founding of our nation to the present day, military service members have fought for the principles of democracy and liberty, he said. America emerged as a world leader, Hamel said, as a result of veterans’ sacrifices.

“Our military veterans have changed the course of world history and world events over and over,” he said.

As the country honors its 18.2 million veterans Nov. 11, Hamel encouraged the crowd to consider that every veteran has a unique story filled with courage, teamwork, professionalism and integrity that statistics cannot capture.

To close his remarks, Hamel addressed Carolina’s ROTC cadets.

“I have confidence that you who will serve in the future will be up to it. You have the intellect, the strength, the character and the values that we need,” he said. “You individually and collectively will carry the load of keeping America free and a beacon of hope for the world.”