This year’s Veteran’s Day not only honored veterans and those who serve today, but it also recognized the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. Pitt State held the annual Veteran’s Day ceremony open to the public Monday, Nov. 12, which was also used as a history lesson for local sixth graders.
Normally, the ceremony takes place at PSU’s Veteran’s Day memorial outside the Student Recreation Center, but due to inclement weather it was moved inside. Wyatt Pressnell, senior in psychology, is seeking a military emphasis and is also part of Pitt State’s ROTC program. Pressnell, Senior Cadet and Company Executive Officer, acted as the master of ceremonies for the afternoon.
“It’s a huge honor for me,” Pressnell said. “I grew up going to Veteran’s Day ceremonies all throughout my life and it was always something that inspired me as a little kid. I’ve wanted to be in one since I was four and so growing up watching this and now being part of it is a huge honor. … It was very humbling and a huge honor to speak on behalf of the veterans and behalf of the army in this case.”
Pressnell will enter commissioning in the spring. Veteran’s Day is a special holiday to Pressnell specifically, as its meaning helped influence his future.
“For me, it means that the mentors and the veterans that I grew up around… that gave me the inspiration to serve, it’s a day that I can remember them and honor their sacrifice and remember the tradition that I carry on,” he said.
Patrick Moss, Pittsburg High School history teacher, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Moss discussed his connection to Veteran’s Day through his grandfathers as well as the meaning behind the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.
“It was definitely an honor (to speak),” Moss said. “I was taken back a little bit just to go through my upbringing with my two grandpas who had served in World War II and obviously they had a huge impact on my outcome and who I hopefully turned out to be. I always try to think about what they would do and what they would want me to do, and so they were definitely two heroes who I guess served as a guide for my moral compass.”
Along with Moss’ keynote, PSU President Steve Scott also spoke on behalf of the university’s Veteran’s Day memorial. The ceremony also featured a POW/MIA display by the ROTC, local student choirs, and special honor of the veterans present.
“… It is somewhat unique to have a veteran’s memorial on a campus and to host these kinds of events, I think it just speaks to the spirit of this place that we understand the importance of the military,” Scott said. “We’ve been strong supporters of the ROTC program and it’s just a strong sense of patriotism here, and so it gives us a moment to show that… The most important part of the day, in my mind, is that the message is delivered to sixth graders and try to help share with them the culture, importance of patriotism …”
Scott’s father and father-in-law both served in World War II and his brother in the Vietnam War, all of whom he personally commemorates each Veteran’s Day.
Moss described Veteran’s day as a day in which America can remind those who served that they are “loved and not forgotten.” Ceremony attendants received poppies in remembrance of those who died in World War I, as the signing of the Armistice was a call for ceasefire between the United States and Germany. As this year is the 100th anniversary of this signing, Moss discussed why this is important to commemorate.
“Well, I think we have to reflect on what started wars and hopefully we understand that when we get into wars, we’re doing it for the right reasons and that men and women ultimately die when you decide to go to war,” Moss said. “And so even though it’s 100 years old, it’s not that far removed and it needs to be studied every year—and we can’t forget about it because it’s only a generation away from being forgotten completely if we don’t pass on the lesson to other generations.”