Emotions filled the room during Grambling State University’s 13th annual Veteran’s Day Program ceremony on Monday in the Black and Gold Room.
The Prisoner of War tribute by Ronnie Lyons, past department vice commander, moved many retired veterans. Lyons briefly discussed lost soldiers and showed his concern and condolences.
“This is an emotional time of the ceremony and we hope to have the lost soldiers to be found and returned to their families again one day,” said Lyons.
More emotions were expressed when the guest speaker, former U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, was introduced by Ewing l. Collier, retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.
Alexander’s main concern was the lack of participation by the youth in honoring veterans.
“It hurts to see that it’s not a lot of young people coming out to support the veteran troops,” said Alexander.
Alexander is from Jonesboro and a graduate of nearby Jonesboro-Hodge High School. He is also a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe and he served as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He and his wife reside in Ruston and are the parents of three children and six grandchildren.
Lyons later placed a black POW flag over the empty chairs to remember the lost soldiers and the room fell silent.
Service songs were played by retired Army 1st Sgt. Charles Young to recognize each of the armed services: Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.
Retired U.S. Army Major Consuella Lockhart was the mistress of ceremonies for the program.
Members of Grambling State University Army ROTC started the ceremony by the posting of the flag and the singing of the national anthem, which was led by Foster Harris.
Current GSU ROTC Cadet Capt. Laporsha Gould expressed her thanks and gratitude to the retired veterans. Gould also talked about the history and meaning of Veterans Day.
Alexander started off his brief speech with some humor to make the crowd laugh.
“I’ve had a very successful political career because I gave short speeches, and I won’t disappoint you all today,” said Alexander.
He went into brief detail of the meaning of Veterans Day and he talked about the history of Louisiana’s veterans.
The ceremony, which was sponsored by the Ludley-McCall-Williams American Legion Post 593, closed with the folding of the flag and during each fold the veterans explained the meaning of the folding.
The veterans were pleased with the turnout of the event and it brought back memories of their tenure in combat.
“This is my second event, and its always moving,” said Lugene Smith, who is district judge advocate for the American Legion. “It makes me think about the times in combat and also I think about all of my friends and fellow comrades that didn’t make it back home with me.”