veterans day ceremony

NCSU Pipes and Drums plays beneath the Belltower before the Veterans Day ceremony begins on Nov. 11.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, NC State celebrated Veterans Day with a 5K run and ceremony hosted by Military and Veterans Services and the Army ROTC program. The 5K began at 6 a.m. and ended at 7 a.m. at the Belltower where the ceremony was then held.

Nick Drake, the director of Military and Veterans Services at NC State, began the ceremony by welcoming the guests and introducing the speakers. 

Speakers included retired Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger, former vice chancellor Tom Stafford, a representative from Raleigh Sister Cities and Army Cadet Kendall Lydon.

Stafford gave a brief history of the Belltower, which he said was very important because not many people are aware that it is a memorial bell tower.

“It is our most iconic structure, and it has always concerned me that most of the students at NC State do not know that this is a military memorial,” Stafford said. “You know, they just think it's a bell tower [that] chimes and tells you what time it is. But they don't know that this was built to honor the NC State alumni who died while they were in military service during World War I. And so part of my mission in life, now that I'm retired, is to try to educate as many people, especially students, that I can.”

Cara Gentile, chair of Raleigh Sister Cities’ Compiègne Committee, explained that every year, a wreath is presented in Compiègne, France, one of Raleigh’s sister cities, on behalf of the people of Raleigh to honor those who died in World War I. Gentile presented a wreath from the people of Compiègne at the ceremony.

“Each year, here in Raleigh, our Compiègne committee presents a wreath in a gesture of peace … in memory of those lives lost in the war,” Gentile said. “Today, as we do each year, we are honored to present a memorial wreath on behalf of the people of Compiègne.” 

Gentile also presented a hand crafted vase to Stafford for display in the Belltower. She was followed by Lydon, a graduate student in international studies, who honored the fallen by sharing about her brother who died while on duty.

The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Amazing Grace” by NCSU Pipes and Drums. Drake said he was pleased with the ceremony and the turnout, and that it is important that NC State hold ceremonies to honor veterans.

“First of all, it's important to honor the sacrifice and service of our veterans, but not only the veterans, the families as well,” Drake said. “And then more specifically, we have 2,400 military connected students here at NC State, just about 900 of which are veterans. So it's always important that we honor the service and sacrifices that they make.”

Rebecca Daniels, a fourth-year studying industrial engineering and an Air Force cadet, said she took the opportunity to run the 5K and show up for the ceremony to show respect for veterans.

“The military has always been there to protect us and be there for us and to give back to them, to thank them for everything they've done, past, present and future is just a major thing,” Daniels said. “The fact that NC State has this and has the Belltower is just something that's always been important to me.”

Christyana Jones, a third-year studying horticulture science management, said she heard about the 5K through her friend and decided to come run for fun, but also to support her family members who serve in the military.

“Both of my parents are in the military,” Jones said. “Both my older sisters currently serve. Just coming from a military family — I'm not in the military — but it's my way to represent the people who sacrificed so much for me and my family.”

Stafford said NC State’s ties with the military are an important foundation of the University, and why it is so important to celebrate holidays like Veterans Day.

“NC State is a land grant university,” Stafford said. “And what that means is that we are required to teach agriculture, engineering and military science. That is a part of our foundation, a part of our mission. So the military has always been a part of NC State. It's important to have special events, special ceremonies, like the one today to celebrate that connection that we have.”

More information about NC State’s Military and Veterans Services can be found here.

News Editor

I am a third-year studying English with a minor in biology. I joined Technician in the fall of 2020 as a correspondent and am now working as the News Editor. I plan to graduate in the spring of 2022.