BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – Over 20 ROTC cadets from local universities will be stationed at the Veterans Memorial in Brookings to stand guard for 24 hours in honor of the Veterans Day vigil. 

“We take shifts guarding the Veterans vigil to honor those who have fallen,” Milee Young, a South Dakota State University senior and ROTC cadet, said. 

The cadets started guarding the memorial at 11 a.m. on Friday and will continue until the closing ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 11. The 20 students will take two-hour shifts throughout the night. Young said ROTC cadets have been standing guard of the memorial for the past 34 years, which is put on by the Bernie V. Guthrie Squadron of the Arnold Air Society.

The 24 hour guarding period began with an opening ceremony where a retired colonel who went to SDSU and the ROTC commander of cadets spoke, as well as veterans from the Brookings community, Young said. 

This is Young’s fourth year guarding the vigil. She said she joined ROTC to follow in her brother’s footsteps who is an active duty air force member. 

“It’s all about giving back to those who have lost their lives, to the veterans and their families, so doing this for them makes me a happier person and I want to help out and do something I care about,” she said.

Trevor Hatch is a Dakota State University sophomore and is one of the students guarding the vigil. Hatch said he joined the ROTC to maintain mental and physical fitness, gain comradery and also give back to his country. 

“I’ve always wanted to serve my country, it’s just something I’ve wanted to do and being in ROTC is a cool way to do it,” Hatch said. “We do the 24 hour vigil on Veterans Day to show appreciation for all those who have given to our country.”