Veterans Vigil 2020

Jon McFadden, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 continues to force the cancelation of many things, two Commerce groups are working to ensure that honoring those who have and are serving won’t be overlooked this Veterans Day.

The Rotary Club of Commerce and the Texas A&M University-Commerce Veterans and Military Services office have each slated events to honor and memorialize veterans.

Following a successful inaugural year in 2019, the Rotary Club of Commerce is planning the second annual Waves of Glory display at Commerce City Park on Park Street, Nov.7 – 13. An opening ceremony was scheduled at the presentation site 11 a.m. on Nov. 7 and several state and local dignitaries were invited to speak.

Last year, a field of 100 red, white and blue United States flags, tagged with the name of a Hunt County veteran, was displayed at the park. This year, project coordinator Jim Ayres anticipates a display of over 200 flags after adding first responders to the list of those who may be honored.

“COVID-19 has brought the role of first responders to the forefront,” Ayres said, “and we wanted to recognize their service as well.”

The flags, spread over a large area of the park, will be displayed for come-and-go viewing, making this a social distancing friendly event.

The club sought nominations for honorees whose name, photo and description of their service will be included on a tag attached to a flag. Any Hunt County veteran, living or deceased, as well as current or past first responders, could be nominated on the event website, https://www.commercewavesofglory.com.

The Waves of Glory flag display is the result of a challenge by a recent Rotary district governor for clubs in the district to seek ways to spotlight veterans.

“Having lost my own father in Vietnam when I was just a young boy, I always seek opportunities to honor those that have served,” Ayres said.

“This is an example of the Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self’ in action, it takes all of us to accomplish, but it is important to remember those who have served,” said Mike Morrow, president of the Rotary Club of Commerce.

The Veterans Vigil committee of the Veterans and Military Services office at A&M-Commerce is planning the annual Veterans Vigil and will be held virtually this year. The event typically includes a keynote speaker, a vigil flame display, a luncheon, and closing ceremonies.

A&M-Commerce President Dr. Mark Rudin will convey his video-recorded thoughts to honor veterans on Nov. 11; additional details will be announced soon.

Several student veterans will share pre-recorded video comments about what being a veteran means to them, along with their student experience and educational goals.

“In short, our students are the special guests this year,” Dustin Pearson, veterans service manager for the university, said.

Those seeking additional information about the Veterans Vigil can contact Pearson at [email protected]