University to observe Veterans Day Friday

By Gus Bode

First time SIUC has given a day off for students, faculty, staff

Students, faculty and staff across campus get a break from the usual academic week Friday to show respect for veterans across the nation on Veterans Day.

The day was set aside as a chancellor’s holiday in the spring of 2004 to honor the support for troops in Iraq. It is the first time in the University’s history that students have honored Veterans Day with a day off when it falls on a weekday. The day off was in response to requests made by several groups on campus, such as the Undergraduate Student Government and the Civil Service Council.


The Air Force and Army ROTC will perform a 24-hour silent vigil at the Old Main flagpole Thursday starting at 11:00 a.m. At the end of the vigil, ROTC is sponsoring a ceremony with a 21-gun salute and guest speaker, retired Capt. William Norwood.

Veterans Day, formerly called Armistice Day, was declared a national holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It is a day set aside to celebrate the victory of World War I. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 as a tribute to all of the fallen or missing soldiers and prisoners of war.

To Army ROTC Cadet Bill Archer, Thursday’s silent vigil represents several different aspects of Veterans Day. The cadets will take turns standing silently at the flagpole with their heads bowed to pay respect to veterans, living and dead, of the country.

Archer said it symbolizes remembrance, dignity, unity and preparation. Archer will participate in the vigil and the ROTC ceremony and said Veterans Day means something different to everybody.

“We all do our own things,” he said. “This is just our way of, being in the military, celebrating and remembering other people who have done the same thing,”

Archer said celebrating Veterans Day, and taking time to remember fallen soldiers and friends he made while in the military, is almost like a celebration for friendship and sacrifice.

“I don’t think anyone should have to do anything specific,” Archer said. “You don’t need to know their names to appreciate what they’ve done.”


But of about 20 people approached in the Student Center Tuesday afternoon, all expressed disinterest in the Veterans Day activities.

Norwood, the ceremony’s guest speaker, is a graduate of SIUC and former star quarterback for three years. A native of Centralia, he served in the Air Force for six years. He also founded the Organization for Black Pilots and was a member of the SIU Board of Trustees for 27 years.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Marion and Murphysboro are also having separate ceremonies to honor veterans of the local area.

The VFW in Marion, located at 309 N. 16th St., will be having a ceremony at the “Doughboy” statue, which is a block away on Park Avenue. The guest speaker will be Harry Spiller, a local veteran and author of books, such as “Death Angel:A Memoir of a Death Messenger,” on his war experiences. There will be a public lunch after the ceremony.

Another VFW in Marion, located at 201 W. Longstreet Road, is having a ceremony at the flagpole east of the building. They will have a 21-gun salute and a dedication to all of the soldiers in the area.

The Murphysboro ceremony is at the American Legion, located at 1700 Gartside St. Bill Slider, a 25th District commander and the senior vice commander of the Murphysboro American Legion, is the guest speaker at the ceremony. There will also be poems read by the Sons of Legion, who are sons and daughters of veterans. An after-party will be held at the VFW of Murphysboro, located at 108 S. 10th St.

Reporter Julie Engler can be reached at [email protected]