RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Before the sun rose, a melody filled the air on N.C. State’s campus.
A red haze clung to the bell tower, and camaraderie was shared in small moments and large strides.
Veterans Day means something different for the ROTC students at N.C. State University.
“This is just what we’re out here doing — celebrating veterans and the impact that they’ve had on our lives. Even if we don’t realize it every day, they’ve had a huge impact on our lives,” said Andrew Kakaley, a junior and midshipman second class.
For 100 years, the N.C. State Veterans Day run has brought together the Wolfpack.
ROTC members lead the charge, starting the run at the bell tower, which has served as symbol for last 70 years. When it was erected, it honored World War I veterans.
With each step, the runners fulfill a joint mission to uplift and celebrate some of the bravest among us.
“You look at veterans across our country — there’s 21 million of them — and they chose for the most part to do what they did and they’re all proud of it,” explained Ret. Navy Rear Admiral Doug Morton, who is also an associate vice chancellor at the university.
The veteran brought that message of pride in his keynote address to the nearly 300 people who attended Friday’s event.
Major Barry Morris is a marine. He felt pride as he celebrated the Marine Corps 242nd birthday on Friday, as the nation also observed Veterans Day.
“Think about when you’re out and about, you see that older gentleman or young lady and they’re wearing that veteran’s hat — they served,” said the N.C. State ROTC Marine officer instructor. “Turn around and just shake their hands and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ It really goes a long way.”