Students walking through the Lory Student Center Plaza on Thursday or Friday might have seen the unusual sight of a camouflaged person in a cage and a cadet guarding the flagpole.
The Capt. Mark Giles Danielson Squadron of the Arnold Air Society held a 24-hour vigil honoring prisoners of war and missing in action from all United States wars. The vigil included National POW/MIA Remembrance Day, which was Friday.
The vigil was marked by the constant presence of a CSU ROTC cadet guarding the flagpole and one sitting in a small cage, symbolizing the struggle of POWs in other countries. The cadets substituted every hour.
“It is our commitment to all our warriors, present and past,” said Jeremy West, cadet 1st Lt. for Air Force ROTC. “They did not fight for us to forget.”
The ceremony also included a speech from Col. Thomas Kirk, a former POW, and a free Friday night showing of “Return With Honor,” in which Kirk was featured.
“Never forget and never take lightly the sacrifices of the people that came before you,” said Kirk, a POW for five and a half years in Vietnam. “The freedoms that we enjoy are not free.”
The ceremony began with the lowering of the Colorado flag from the Plaza flagpole. It was then replaced with a black POW/MIA flag while the “Star-Spangled Banner” played.
After the flag raising, a candle was lit to honor a POW or MIA from Colorado. One such candle was lit every hour during the 24-hour vigil.
Friday’s activities included an F-16 flyover and closing ceremonies. There was also a 5K Sunset Salute Run and barbecue on Friday evening, which was not a part of the vigil.
Yellow roses were given out during the day, with donations going to the barbeque and a POW/MIA remembrance fund.
“I thought (the ceremony) was awesome,” said Mary Frances Ortner, a senior biology major. “It was great that they did it, and we need it, especially after Sept. 11.”