By Alexa Dunn, Correspondent
Image Credit: Jason Marsan
Starting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Air Force Honor Corps stood a 24-hour vigil outside the courthouse on the Prescott Green. They guarded the statue there, which is a memorial to all veterans from Yavapai County who gave their lives in service to our country. It includes fallen heroes from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Global War on Terror.
Honor Corps is a group of three teams that seek to uphold the values and traditions of the Air Force and is made up of both cadets and civilians. The three teams—Honor Guard, Sabre Drill Team, and Rifle Drill Team—all specialize in different types of performances and displays, but every year, they come together to hold a vigil for Veterans Day.
Vice Commander of the Honor Corps, Christian Colabella, told Horizons, “Guard takes the rest of our Corps and pulls them together in honor of this … It’s bigger than one team to make this event happen.” Army ROTC also joined the Honor Corps to assist throughout the late hours of the night.
“It’s been a tradition to do a 24-hour vigil to give back to the service and to honor the veterans we have,” Colabella stated. “It started at the VA [Veterans Affairs] hospital … This time, we’re out there standing vigil over the monument to the fallen from Yavapai County.”
Over the course of the 24-hour vigil, the Honor Corps rotated in 30-minute shifts, marching from across the street to take their positions around the statue. This continued throughout the day and into the night where temperatures dropped down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
The conditions were grueling, but the Commander of Honor Corps, Alexandra Ralph, told Horizons her perspective on what it meant to stand vigil: “A lot of people don’t even know that these statues, these memorials, exist. To stand there and educate the public that these names are here and get five seconds of their attention is worth the whole 24 hours to me.”
At 10:00 a.m. on Friday, the morning of Veterans Day, the vigil concluded with an increased guard, including members of the Sabre Drill Team. When finished, the teams regrouped to participate in the flag-folding ceremony for the Prescott Veterans Day parade, then performed in the parade itself.
Prescott is a town full of veterans and with a deep appreciation for their service, especially with the VA hospital close by. Throughout the vigil, many service members stopped by to take pictures and converse with the Honor Corps alumni who stood nearby to oversee the guard. Many were moved by the silent cadets watching over the memorial, and expressed their appreciation for ERAU’s Honor Corps.
“A lot of it to me, whenever I think about vigil, [is] the stories I hear about the individuals that come up to us and tell us how much it means to them,” Ralph told Horizons.