November 09, 2004

Vigil, ceremony to mark Veteran's Day

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - A Vietnam veteran whose honors include the Purple Heart is speaking at Veteran's Day ceremonies, Thursday, Nov. 11, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Phillip C. Miller Jr., will give the keynote address at 10 a.m. at the Old Main Flagpole. Admission is free.

For the 24 hours prior to the ceremony, a combined operation of about 90 cadets from SIUC's Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) will participate in a time-honored tradition. The cadets will stand a silent vigil to remember the nation's prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action.

A changing of the guard takes place every 15 minutes during a 24-hour period that starts at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Miller, who lives in Carbondale, served three years as director of aerospace studies for the Air Force ROTC detachment 205 at SIUC before retiring this summer. His military career spans 36 years. He entered the U.S. Army in 1968 and served as a warrant officer in Vietnam, where he flew utility and observation helicopters. He received a Purple Heart after being shot down while in Vietnam.

Miller entered the Air Force in 1975 through ROTC at the University of Florida.

SIUC Air Force ROTC Cadet Capt. Michael J. Busse said the vigil is important.

"It is something great we can do to honor and respect the veterans who have preceded us," said Busse, a senior in aviation management and flight from Conroe, Texas.

In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will move to Ballroom B in the Student Center, but the vigil will continue rain or shine.

Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole will give the Veteran's Day proclamation, and SIUC's music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, will perform the National Anthem and America the Beautiful. Air Force and Army cadets will perform a 21-gun salute and provide color guard for the event.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.