The University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, students marched for 24 hours in the Amphitheatre as part of a vigil held to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action.
ROTC students began marching Monday afternoon and took turns completing shifts. The vigil concluded with a ceremony Tuesday afternoon after the 24 hour march.
The University’s Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC branches participated. The Air Force’s detachment is made up of the University and three other schools — James Madison University, Liberty University and Piedmont Virginia Community College.
Navy ROTC Honor Guard member Chris O’Kuinghttons, a third-year Engineering student, said it is important to take time to remember those who served.
“Standing on watch for 24 hours is literally nothing compared to some of the others things people have gone through,” O’Kuinghttons said. “I think it’s important that we all do it, take a few minutes up here to reflect.”
O’Kuinghttons had time to reflect while serving two shifts — one in the morning and one late at night.
“I marched at 12:30 last night and then 11:30 this morning,” O’Kuinghttons said. “The vigil is always pretty sobering.”
Air Force ROTC member Justin Schneider, a PVCC first year student, appreciated the opportunity to participate.
Of his shift, Schneider said, “It was really quiet, so just a good time to center and focus on why you’re really there and everything.”
O’Kuinghttons also said he found the support from the University and students encouraging.
“U.Va. is awesome and the fact that we could have a place like this — that the University would be willing to sponsor that, and the amount of positive feedback we get is absolutely incredible,” O’Kuinghttons said.
O’Kuinghttons said he also experienced a special moment when some of his friends were marching after midnight.
“There was this guy who was sitting in the middle [of the Amphitheatre steps],” O’Kuinghttons said. “They got off stage he said thank you … who stands out here at 12:30 on a rainy night and says thank you to ROTC members who are marching? I thought that was awesome.”
Air Force ROTC member Katherine Krawietz, a second-year Engineering student, was in charge of coordinating the event and also took a shift marching on stage.
“It was really nice to take a moment just to reflect on why I choose to serve in the military and why I want to fall in the footsteps of those who served before me,” Krawietz said.