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ROTC salutes veterans

It’s not the 11th day, but the usual traditions will follow. Eleven minutes after 12 p.m. today USF’s ROTC cadets will present the United States flag to remember those who lost their lives in war.

The occasion is special to Col. Joseph Kools not only because he has spent time overseas in the Army but also because the ROTC program will be celebrating the event with military units in Tampa.

“Tampa has always been a military town. It is important that we take pride in things we have that we take for granted,” Kools said.

The event takes place at Lykes Gaslight Park, where the ROTC will present the colors before the Tampa Bay community. Kools said many people don’t realize the history of Veteran’s Day.

The official recognition comes from the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. In 1938 Congress passed an act to dedicate Nov. 11 as Armistice Day to remember WWI veterans, and in 1954 it became a day to honor all veterans.

“This nation exists because of veterans, and it is important that we don’t lose sight of that,” Kool said.

With USF’s ROTC program participating in the celebration along with the USF Herd of Thunder marching band, Kools said he expects a large turnout from the community.

“Last year was rather small. This year we take the lead,” Kools said. “We have been planning this since last year.”

Kools, who spent 13 years serving in the Army, is in his third year at USF as a professor of military science and is a member of the Military Affairs Committee.

USF’s ROTC program includes branches of the Army, Air Force and Navy.

Junior Guillermo Martinez has been in Army ROTC for three years and volunteered to play “Taps” at the event to remember past soldiers.

“It’s honorable to be able to play something like that for veterans,” Martinez said. “We want everybody to remember all those who fought and died for us and honor them.”