November 05, 2015

Vigil, ceremony highlight Veterans Day event

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale and VFW Post 2605 will host a joint Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the Veterans Memorial Plaza in Carbondale.

The event begins at 11 a.m. and is open to the public. The Veterans Memorial Plaza is at the intersection of East Main and South Washington streets, just south of the town square. In the event of rain, the ceremony will move across the street to the City Pavilion. The SIU Carbondale Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) will perform an honor salute and presentation of our nation’s colors.

The ceremony honors veterans of all American and foreign wars, conflicts and military operations. University offices are closed, and there are no classes Wednesday in observance of Veterans Day. University students, faculty and veterans are encouraged to attend.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the event, including the 24-hour silent vigil that precedes the ceremony. SIU Carbondale Air Force and Army ROTC staff members and participating cadets will be available for interviews at the conclusion of the ceremony. Contact Lieutenant Colonel Matt Gooding, professor of military science, at 618/453-7560 or to arrange for interviews.

For the 24 hours preceding the ceremony, a combined operation of more than 100 members of the university’s Air Force and Army ROTC will conduct a timeless tradition honoring those who have served. Cadets will stand a silent vigil beginning at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 10, at the Old Main Flagpole in remembrance of the nation’s prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action. The guard change occurs every 15 minutes during the 24-hour period that runs until Wednesday’s ceremony.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul S. Copeland, former commander of the 323rd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, will present the keynote address. Copeland served 27 years with the U.S. Air Force and he is the Veterans Services coordinator at SIU Carbondale. Copeland earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from SIU Carbondale in 1983. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wyoming in 1990, while serving on active duty.

Copeland earned a commission in the U.S. Air Force through the ROTC program in May 1983. He retired from the military as a lieutenant colonel in July 2011, where the bulk of his career was working with ballistic missiles.  His final assignment as an emergency management specialist at Fort Belvoir, Va., was part of a 10-member Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Team that included assessing crisis response plans and capabilities at military installations around the world, and providing reports on vulnerabilities along with proposed corrective actions. 

From 2006 to 2010, he was a site commander at Fort Belvoir, and as a U.S. senior diplomatic representative, he conducted Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty monitoring of missile production at Votkinsk, Russia.  His experience also includes deputy commander of the 91st Operations Group at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and commander of the 323rd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. 

Veterans Services at SIU Carbondale offers assistance to veterans, military members and military family members as they pursue their academic goals.