ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
The annual 24-hour vigil held at University of Nebraska at Omaha’s the Pep Bowl by the Arnold Air Society and the on campus Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) began Friday at 9 a.m.
For the past several decades UNO’s campus has played host to this day long vigil recognizing prisoners of war and those who went missing in action.
The vigil consisted of members of UNO’s ROTC marching and standing guard around a cage containing an unused military vest. The vest symbolizes those who are serving and those who served and never made it back home.
Those keeping guard while only one member was present would march in a square-shaped path around the cage and present arms to the nearby flagpole flying the United States flag. Later in the day and throughout the night, when two members would stand guard, they would both stand at parade rest next to the cage.
“It’s been here since the 70’s,” Zach Lucas, an ROTC member and junior at UNO who’s majoring in political science said.
Lucas went on to elaborate on the history of the ritual. Originally the vigil used an eternal flame that burned through the day long vigil, a tradition that was replaced with the jacket hanging inside of a cage after complications with maintaining the flame arose.
“It’s very humbling to see all these people walking by, looking at you,” Lucas said on his experience during his vigil shift.
UNO remains the number one ranked university in military friendliness, a fact that was stressed by the annual event according to Lucas.
Zachary Evans, another member of UNO’s ROTC program and the Arnold Air Society commented on his experience during his vigil shift. He currently is a sophomore at UNO majoring in computer science.
“People don’t really understand the scope of how many people captured or killed in past wars,” Evans said on what he felt the vigil conveys.
ROTC members were able to pick up shifts for different times throughout the event. Evans served three of these hour-long shifts for guarding the vest throughout the course of the 24-hour period.
While the vigil was conducted by the Arnold Air Society all cadets from UNO’s ROTC were invited to take shifts in the vigil regardless of their relation to the organization.
“I wanted to be able to see the sun come up while standing guard,” Evans said regarding his back to back shifts from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday.
The vigil concluded at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.