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PCC hosts Veterans Salute

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The PCC choir sings the National Anthem at the Veteran Salute Veteran's Day ceremony at Pitt Community College on Nov. 8, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 9, 2018

Pitt Community College president Lawrence Rouse lauded area veterans for their service on Thursday morning during a Veterans’ Salute ceremony.

The event, sponsored by the PCC Student Veterans Association, brought more than 100 people to the Craig F. Goess Student Center to applaud those who have served.

“As we honor our veterans who have served America, thank you for all you have done to protect our freedoms and our ideals of democracy,” Rouse said. “We're delighted to honor our veterans today.”

According to data from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Population Center, there are nearly 21.5 million veterans nationwide and more than 736,000 veterans live in North Carolina,

The event’s keynote speaker, U.S. Army Maj. Andrew J. D'Antoni, is an assistant professor of military science with East Carolina University Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

D'Antoni thanked all those in attendance for recognizing the special occasion and began his speech by reading “The Soldier's Creed.”

I am an American Soldier.

I am a warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

“These words were steeped in sacred tradition and are recited each morning at 0545 hours by 100 young men and women in an old gymnasium situated off 10th street not too far from here,” D'Antoni said. “It marks the beginning of another army day and while many of their fellow students sleep comfortably in their beds, the cadets of East Carolina University can be found engaged in circuit training in the hot, humid confines of Christenbury gym's multi-purpose room or trotting along campus sidewalks carrying a rucksack with a full combat load, pushing themselves.”

Such students are an endangered species, D'Antoni said, as interest in military service by young people is on the decline.

“(There seems to be) a dwindling number of young men and women who possess not only the personal mental and physical fortitude to serve but also the sense of national honor and patriotic courage that fuels a commitment to duty, to honor and to country,” he said.

D'Antoni appealed to those in the crowd to encourage young people to think about serving in the military.

“Today I hope to honor the past sacrifices and heroism of so many by enlisting your help in creating a renewed interest to military service among younger Americans,” he said. “We live in an incredible period of relative peace and prosperity.

“Each and every one of us sitting here today have access to a level of goods and services, a quality of life, those reserved for the wealthiest among us here 100 years ago,” D’Antoni said. 

A strong military is vital to preserving that way of life, he said.

The PCC event also featured a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” by the PCC Chorale preceded by the presentation of colors by a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard team from J.H. Rose High School.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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