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‘It’s a great time to be a Hilltopper’: WKU holds wreath-laying ceremony and ROTC Hall of Fame induction

Lindsey Coates
WKU holds its annual wreath laying ceremony in honor of Veteran’s day, Nov. 11.

WKU honored past and present military service members at its annual wreath-laying ceremony and the induction of Colonel John Vititoe into WKU’s ROTC Hall of Fame on Friday Nov. 10.

 “We gather today to honor the heroes who answered the call to defend our freedom,” WKU President Timothy Caboni said, and “to celebrate the rich history and esteemed reputation of WKU’s ROTC program.”

Prior to Caboni’s remarks, Sergeant First Class Tiffany Jessop recounted the history of Veteran’s Day, initially proclaimed as Armistice Day by Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It became a national holiday in 1938 and its name was changed in 1954. Cadet Levi Bowman, WKU senior, led the audience in a prayer.

Caboni encouraged those on campus to visit the Guthrie Bell Tower to reflect and remember.

“Remember every individual who’s fought and continues to fight for our freedom, for our nation,” Caboni asked.

 Caboni expressed gratitude for service members’ selflessness, boldness and valor.

“We must always strive to demonstrate our gratitude by the way in which we live, by embracing and celebrating our freedoms, by practicing democracy, and by our service to others,” Caboni said.

Colonel Greg Lowe made remarks on the importance of Western and the ROTC in his life as he and Jessop inducted distinguished military graduate Vititoe into the Hall of Fame. 

After graduating in 1964, Vivitoe was first sent to Okinawa and then to war-torn Vietnam. He continued his education and shared his experiences upon his return to Kentucky. 

While at WKU, Vititoe joined and later continued to be involved with the Pershing Rifle Company, a military-oriented college society. 

Mike and Martha Kenny met at WKU and graduated in 1964. Mike shared his experience as a sportswriter and baseball player at WKU and as he served internationally.

Kelly was positioned overseas as a pilot for the embassies, interacting with international militaries. He said he used some of his knowledge from WKU while in the military.

Kelly felt that the community has helped out veterans. “There’s been a large increase in the visibility of people being recognized,” Kelly said. He is grateful for the awareness and involvement of more people and the services that are offered.

This weekend serves as an opportunity to celebrate both Veteran’s Day and WKU’s homecoming with the patriotic theme Big Red, White and Blue. Bowman was glad those in the military could be honored and supported alongside the campus festivities.  

“It’s a great time to be a Hilltopper,” Georgena Brackett, president of the Alumni Association, said, referring to the combination of events to highlight both homecoming and Veteran’s Day. She said this has culminated into a wonderful weekend.

Brackett said that these events accentuate student involvement, which she said has been a really great opportunity. 

“This weekend of celebration is made more complete by our WKU community taking the time to honor those who serve and are serving,” Caboni said. “May we never forget and may we always honor them for their service and for their sacrifice.

News Reporter Lindsey Coates can be reached at [email protected]




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