By Christianna Lewis
ACU will honor veterans from all over the Big Country, as well as ACU alumni who have served in the armed forces, at its first Veterans Day tribute.
Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, will conduct the opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Moody Coliseum. A 30-minute ceremony will replace regular Chapel activities.
There is no other Veterans Day tribute in Abilene, said Jim Holmans, executive assistant to the president, and Dr. Money and a planning committee of faculty and staff members saw that as an opportunity for ACU to give back to veterans and the community as a whole.
“It should be a heartwarming service,” Holmans said.
The Big Purple band will perform patriotic music at the ceremony. The band’s narrated rendition of Duty, Honor, Country will include excerpts from the speech by the same title Gen. Douglas MacArthur delivered to the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1962.
The Armed Forces Medley will be a chance for veterans attending the ceremony to stand and be recognized. Special tribute will be given to those soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as ACU alumni who lost their lives in service.
Opening Day Ceremonies traditionally included patriotic elements, such as the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The planning committee developed the Veterans Day tribute after Money made the decision to spread those observances among other days of remembrance.
Because Memorial Day is not observed during the school year, the committee chose Veterans Day to recognize men and women who have served in the military, said Dr. Gary McCaleb, vice president of the university.
Though the Veterans Day tribute has not been declared an annual event, it has the potential to become one, McCaleb said.
Ron Hadfield said it is important to set aside a time to honor veterans, and he was excited to be part of the planning process.
“I was asked, but I would have volunteered anyway,” said Hadfield, assistant vice president for university communication.
Hadfield said a great deal of his appreciation for veterans grew from his relationship with Dr. John C. Stevens, ACU’s chancellor emeritus and eighth president. The former president, now deceased, served in WWII.
“He loved his country,” Hadfield said. “I was inspired by his stories and respected his contribution.”
Hadfield said veterans can too often be taken for granted, and this is a chance for ACU to honor what they have done and continue to do to secure freedom.