ROTC cadets hold vigil on Veteran's Day.

November 06, 2023

SIU to hold Veterans Day flagpole vigil, wreath-laying ceremony

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale will publicly commemorate Veterans Day with the annual vigil at the flagpole near the center of campus. 

This year’s Nov. 11 Veterans Day event marks the 42nd anniversary of the flagpole vigil, which began in 1981. The event honors SIU and Southern Illinois veterans who served their country in the U.S. armed forces. 

SIU Air Force and Army ROTC programs, in partnership with SIU Veterans Services, are coordinating this year’s vigil, which begins at 6 a.m. at the Old Main Flagpole, just south of Woody Hall. ROTC cadets will stand silent vigil throughout the day, changing shifts every 15 minutes, until noon. 

harvey-welch-photo-sm.jpgAt 11 a.m., members will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the flagpole and will unveil a shadowbox posthumously honoring retired Lt. Col. Harvey Welch, an SIU alumnus and member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 205. The Centralia, Illinois, native was the first Black player on the Saluki basketball team in 1951 and SIU’s first Black Air Force ROTC graduate. After 20 years of service in the Air Force, Welch returned to his alma mater for a second career as an SIU dean and vice chancellor for student affairs, retiring in 1999.

Haley Harrison, a graduate assistant with SIU Veterans Services, will lead the ceremony with an invocation by Rev. Brian Coffey, Army National Guard veteran and pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church, Carbondale. Carbondale Mayor Carolin Harvey will read the city proclamation, and Lt. Col. Jessica Dwyer, Air Force ROTC Detachment 205 commander, will provide keynote remarks.