RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Ahead of the Veterans Day holiday, South Dakota School of Mines hosted the Army National Guard as they had a salute to service for veterans.

The event started with a flag raising ceremony outside for a current Mines student.

“It’s the Blue Star Service Flag. We raise that and fly it in front of our Surbeck Center to honor our deployed students and staff and faculty. And right now we have one student who’s deployed and yeah, it’s been flying since right after 9/11 is when it started and it’s been flying continuously since,” Director of Veteran Resources Derek Flom said.

Veterans from all branches were invited to the ceremony.

“I came down because I know Colonel More, but I went to school here at School of Mines. I dropped out and then I went into the Army and went to Vietnam. After Vietnam I joined the South Dakota National Guard and I spent 38 years in the Army National Guard, ” Vietnam Veteran Mike Birnbaum said.

School of Mines has a strong veteran presence on campus.

“One of our missions is to honor our veterans, both in the community and our student veterans, our staff and faculty who are veterans. It’s just important to show that we care about them and they’re important to us,” Flom said.

Veteran Mike Birnbaum says he’s proud of today’s youth choosing to join the military.

“You know I talked to the Cadets who are doing the ceremony here and they are college students, they’re young and they’re wearing the uniform. It’s all volunteer today, it’s not a draft or anything else and I think it’s pretty special that they made that choice,” Birnbaum said.

Thursday’s event was a kick-off for the weekend celebrations.

The Blue Star Service Flag will remain raised until the student returns from their deployment.