Community comes together to honor local veterans in special ceremony

Dreary weather didn’t deter Lees-McRae College from recognizing community servicemembers at an intimate Veterans Day ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial in Swank Park 

Lees-McRae faculty, staff, trustees, and students, joined by Banner Elk residents, braved the rain to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. The event opened with a color guard processional and flag raising before the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After an invocation by Rev. Ted Henry and a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Lees-McRae Voice Instructor Holly HendricksPresident Lee King addressed the crowd.  

King opened his remarks with a quote from his personal mentor, Gen. Sam Wilson, who at 16 years old was inspired by Winston Churchill’s speeches to enlist in the U.S. Army and fight in World War II. Wilson went on to rise through the ranks of the infantry, eventually serving as deputy director of the CIA, among other distinguished positions 

When King graduated from Hampton-Sydney College, a male-only private school, in 1994, Wilson spoke at the ceremony, saying, “Let an old soldier who has run with the wolves and flown with the eagles tell you this: Love your country. Don’t ever, ever, stop loving your country. In the whole wide world, we have the best system there is for man to work out his own destiny. But the system is not on automatic pilot. We have to work to make it work. Don’t forget that. We count on you as young men of awesome promise to do what is necessary and what is right to keep us strong and keep us free. 

As the sun broke through the clouds and shone down on the group, King echoed the words of his mentor: “To our veterans that are here with us today, thank you for your service and your sacrifice, to keep us strong and to keep us free. And for those of us who live in the shadow of their service, let us always be reminded of the sacrifices that they paid, and the duty that we have to keep us strong, and keep us free.”  

After King’s speech, Rev. Henry gave a brief history of Veterans Day, which was officially established in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars. King then recognized faculty, staff, trustees, students, and Banner Elk residents in attendance who had served in the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Among the veterans recognized was the late Roy Flint, who had been a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and dean of the academic board at the United States Military Academy at West Point before coming to Lees-McRae to teach history. Flint taught at Lees-McRae for 15 years, and passed away in 2016.  

The event ended with the retiring of the flag, which had flown at the United States National Support Element in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2009Once again, the rain let up, and onlookers were treated to a brief glimpse of sunlight as the color guard closed the ceremony.  

View photos from the event

By Emily WebbNovember 13, 2020
CommunityAlumniCampus Life