UCA honors veterans with several events

The University of Central Arkansas is honoring veterans with a series of events on campus centered around the theme “Honor and Education.” 

On Nov. 11, UCA will honor veterans with the Salute to Service basketball game against Hendrix College. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. in conjunction with the Little Rock Air Force Base. All active and retired military will receive special $5 tickets with a valid ID. A ceremony with cadets taking their oath to join the United States Air Force will be conducted at halftime.

A list of additional events honoring veterans can be found at uca.edu/veteransday

On Nov. 3, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on McAlister Lawn for an information fair and picnic that included more than 20 businesses and organizations providing employment opportunities, support, resources and services for veterans on the UCA campus and in the community. 

Airlifter Brass performs during the Veterans Day ceremony

Airlifter Brass performs during the Veterans Day ceremony.

The annual Veterans Day event followed the information fair. Airlifter Brass, a brass quintet of the United States Air Force Band of mid-America, filled the atmosphere with songs of patriotism just before the start of the ceremony. The program began with the presentation of colors by the UCA ROTC Color Guard. Capt. Andrew Fisher served as the master of ceremonies. 

“This is one of the most important ceremonies of the year for us to not just honor veterans for their service, but to lift up those who are active duty, those who are dependents and their family members,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “At UCA, we don’t do anything alone. We are blessed to have a lot of support behind us. I’d like to thank Sen. [Missy] Irvin, Rep. [Stephen] Magie, Mayor [Bart] Castleberry, Judge [Jim] Baker, and all the folks who stand in support of the work of our university as we work to serve students and their families.” 

Mayor Bart Castleberry reads read a proclamation for Veterans Appreciation Day

Mayor Bart reads a proclamation for Veterans Appreciation Day

Castleberry gave an update about the construction progress of Veterans Plaza at Pompe Park and read a proclamation for Veterans Appreciation Day.

“From the bottom of my heart and the heart of my family, thank you very much. This nation is great because of you,” Castleberry said.  

Three students received recognition as scholarship recipients during the ceremony. Christopher McGee, a physical education major and Special Forces medic out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Emily Walsh, a biology major and combat medic assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard, received $500 Veterans Day scholarships.

Tracy Tidwell presented the $1000 newly endowed Tidwell Veterans Scholarship. She and her husband, Mark Tidwell, created the scholarship more than ten years ago in memory of her father, Harry Vernon Midgett and in honor of Mark Tidwell’s father, John Tidwell. 

“Both of them felt so strongly about serving our country, and we wanted to honor them in some way,” Tracy Tidwell said. “This year, thanks to some of you and members of the community who have contributed to the fund, the scholarship is now endowed.”

Greg Pelts presenting certificate to Emily Walsh

Greg Pelts, director of the Veterans Resource Center, presents a certificate to Emily Walsh.

Tracy Tidwell and Mark Tidwell present a certificate to Megan Rosser

Tracy Tidwell and Mark Tidwell present a certificate to scholarship recipient Megan Rosser.

Megan Rosser, a staff sergeant who served more than 11 years in active duty Air Force and worked as a member of the security services, received the Tidwell Scholarship. 

Brigadier General Bradley J. Cox delivered the keynote address for the ceremony. Cox is the Director of Joint Staff, Arkansas National Guard, at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas. He served two tours of duty in Iraq between 2004 and 2009. His numerous awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Combat Infantry Badge.   

Brigadier General Bradley J. Cox delivers the keynote address.

Brigadier General Bradley J. Cox delivers the keynote address.

“One of the very highest priorities we have as leaders – whether you’re the mayor, dean, professor, businessman or service member – is to create a climate in which the next generation of our nation’s leaders can succeed,” Cox said. “If you want really want to know what you can do to show your appreciation for the men and women who have served in uniform, do your part to ensure that any sacrifice made on behalf of our country is not made in vain. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have selflessly given to make sure our freedoms, our lifestyles, our form of government, and our ability to pursue happiness is protected. They have ensured and continue to ensure that you have the freedom to become the best you, you can be.” 

After Cox’s address, Airlift Brass played “Armed Forces Salute,” a medley of the anthems from each of the various branches of the military. Veterans stood as the band played their service song. The ceremony ended with a moment of silence in remembrance of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for America, followed by a trumpeter from Airlifter Brass playing “Taps.”