The Albany State University ROTC Color Guard marches with the United States and Georgia flags at the ASU Veterans Day ceremony on campus Monday. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — Albany State University honored U.S. military veterans at a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day outside Orene Hall Monday.
About 100 people, including Albany residents, civic officials and veterans, attended the event, which featured an address by Col. Yori Escalante, chief of staff of the Marine Corps Logistics Command, which is located at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.
The event began with the presentation of the flag by ASU ROTC Color Guard, which was quickly followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” led by a group of 3-year-old students from ASU’s early learning center.
“That was a wonderful rendition of the pledge and ‘America the Beautiful,’” Escalante said upon taking the podium. “That brings back good memories.
“When I was a kid growing up outside of New York City, we said the pledge and sang ‘America the Beautiful’ every morning.”
Escalante continued by telling those in attendance how important it was to take time to honor the service of all the veterans and their families who have served America and its citizens.
“On this day, it’s important that we pause to recognize our veterans,” Escalante said. “We salute their families as well.”
Escalante spoke of the sacrifices those who serve make day in and day out and how — regardless of the branch of service, or engagement — veterans represent traits all Americans should strive to emulate.
“One constant has remained, the strength, courage, patriotism and loyalty to the American fighting service member,” he said. “The veteran, the Marine, the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the coast guardsman, active or reserve, sacrificing their individual freedoms and many times their limbs and lives, to defend freedom and the way of life as we know it today.”
In addition to his overall comments about veterans, Escalante also spoke about the future of the armed services and the country as a whole. He shared that there were currently 1.4 million American service men and women and that 85 percent of those had an average age of 28.
Escalante said that those currently serving in the military were learning valuable leadership and life skills that will help them serve the country.
“When you see the ability, the willingness to continue to serve and fight, you will quickly see that this county is in great hands,” said Escalante. “Many gain life skills, leadership skills which pave the way to the future.”
Albany City Commissioner Tommy Postell, an Albany State alum and a Korean War veteran, also was in attendance and spoke of his pride at seeing the Veterans Day event on the ASU campus.
“Today is a very very proud day for me,” said Postell. “You should always feel proud of yourself for being a veteran. Not everyone can be a veteran.”
Postell’s sentiments were echoed by Escalante, who pointed out the need of citizens to show their respect and gratitude to veterans, not only on Veterans day, but throughout the year.
“Today, we take time to honor our veterans and their service, both in and out of combat” Escalante continued. “We need to honor their service today and we need to honor their service everyday, show them gratitude, show them that we care. When we remember our nation’s veteran’s we reaffirm the principle that duty, loyalty and faithfulness are more than just words, they are moral convictions in action.”