Veterans Vigil to mark 25th year | TSLN.com

Veterans Vigil to mark 25th year

Two Air Force ROTC cadets march in the final shift of a previous Veterans Vigil at the Brookings County Veterans Memorial. Cadets will again be marching in 30-minute shifts for 24 hours before the closing ceremony at 11:11 a.m. Veterans Day. Photo courtesy SDSU

BROOKINGS, S.D. — Nov. 5, 2014 — Air Force ROTC cadets marching in somber cadence and a message from retired Brig. Gen. Keith Corbett will mark 25 years for the Veterans Vigil in Brookings.

Cadets from Detachment 780 at South Dakota State University will begin marching at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Brookings County Veterans Memorial at West Seventh Street and Western Avenue. The 24-hour vigil will conclude with an 11 a.m. Nov. 11 ceremony on Veterans Day. Corbett, the deputy mayor for the City of Brookings, will give the keynote address "Valor is Stability, Not of Legs and Arms, But of Courage and the Soul."

He is also dean of SDSU's University College and has been connected with the school the majority of his life. The Watertown native graduated in 1976 with a degree in chemistry. That also was when he was commissioned by the Air Force ROTC into the Air Force for a four-year term.

Then in 1983 Corbett was commissioned into the U.S. Army for a four-year term. He then began a 26-year career with South Dakota National Guard, which ended in 2012 with his retirement as brigadier general. The rank also carries the title of assistant adjutant general for the National Guard, meaning Corbett is responsible for troop readiness, training, mobilization exercises, recruiting and retention.

Corbett also served as transportation officer in the South Dakota Army National Guard 1983 to 2012, working his way to the rank of full colonel in 2002.

In his Veterans' message, Corbett will point out that the "service members we honor on Veterans Day come from all walks of life, but they share several fundamental qualities which serve a cause larger than one's self."

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Corbett frequently addresses veterans' gathering but hasn't spoken at the Veterans Vigil before.

Timing dates back to World War I

The vigil actually begins at 10:45 a.m. Nov. 10 with a brief opening—the national anthem sung by Cadets Brendan Wehde and Tyler Carr, an invocation by Cadet Emily Johnson and the lighting of a small oil lamp, which symbolizes vigilance. It burns continuously for the 24-hour vigil and then is extinguished at the end of the closing ceremonies. Cadet Chandler Bauer will give the benediction.

Marching begins at 11:11 a.m. and continues until 11:11 a.m. Nov. 11.

The timing harkens to the end of fighting on the western front in World War I at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, after an armistice was signed earlier that day. The observance of Armistice Day transitioned to the current Veterans Day in 1954.

A time to reflect, give respect

Some 35 cadets will participate in the vigil, marching two at a time for 30-minute shifts. With 96 slots to be filled, many cadets will march more than once.

Cadet Jacob Bierschbach, a junior history major from Watertown, will be participating in his third Veterans Vigil.

I usually think about both of my grandpas. One served in Korea in the Navy, one served in WWII in the Marines. Also, I have cousins served who served in the Army. It's special for me. I really enjoy marching. It shows respect and reference to those who have served before us. We remember the sacrifices they have given to the country," Bierschbach said.

He added that cadets are encouraged to "reflect on why they are serving. It's a good reflecting time for the cadets and a good way to stay motivated."

Bierschbach, a first lieutenant in Arnold Air Society, said his motivation for joining ROTC came from "a strong conviction to serve our country, to give back to what this county has given me, to keep that legacy going, to give someone else as good a life as I have."

Flyover part of closing event

The closing ceremony also includes a flyover by local pilots and the extinguishing of the oil lamp.

The public is invited to observe any part of the vigil, but particularly the opening and closing ceremonies.

The vigil is dedicated to remembering every U.S. soldier who has been killed in action, taken prisoner or is missing in action. The vigil will be held regardless of weather and only in the case of extreme weather will the closing ceremony be canceled.

For more information, call Biersbach, 605-868-1310 or Lt. Col. William Pleasants, Arnold Air Society adviser, 605-688-6106.

–SDSU