Before beginning his speech at Oregon State University’s pre-Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday morning, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David E. Price asked the veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we’re here,” he reminded the small crowd gathered on the Memorial Union Quad, many of them in uniform. “Please join me in a round of applause.”
As always, the annual event organized by OSU’s Reserve Officers Training Corps programs celebrated the service and sacrifice of America’s veterans with patriotic words and military rites.
While the audience stayed dry beneath portable canopies set up for the occasion, a joint service color guard began the proceedings by slow-marching through a steady drizzle. As they presented the flag, the OSU Meistersingers performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The event ended with a missing man ceremony, accompanied by a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” to honor America’s prisoners of war and missing in action.
In his keynote address, Price focused on the idea of service — both in and out of uniform.
A graduate of Willamette University who also attended the University of Oregon, Price is now retired and living in Redmond. During a 33-year career with the Air Force, he held a variety of positions that included commanding Los Angeles Air Force Base, serving as Air Force chief of staff chair at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and preparing Air Force budgets totaling more than $70 billion a year. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Military Officers’ Association of America.
He began his remarks by noting that Veteran Day derives from Armistice Day, a celebration of the agreement that brought World War I to a close.
“Many people thought that war would be the war to end all wars,” Price said. “But what history teaches us over and over again is that there’s always another tyrant, there’s always another evil group working to subjugate our freedom and bend it to their will.”
There will always be a need for military service, but service is equally important in civilian life, he added.
“One of the things a lot of veterans find hard when they take off their uniform for the last time is to give up their commitment to service,” Price said.
Even after they leave the military, Price said, veterans can continue to serve their country and their community through organizations such as the Military Officers’ Association of America, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Then he called the audience’s attention to the ROTC members in attendance, in particular a detachment of Air Force cadets standing in formation behind the canopies that sheltered the crowd.
“They’re America’s next generation of veterans,” the general said. “They self-selected for that role, and over the next few years they will become commissioned officers. They will be asked to take risks, and they may even be called upon to fight and win a future war.”
Price urged the young men and women to serve with honor as long as they wore their country’s uniform — and to keep doing so after they took it off for the last time.
“Never stop serving,” he said.