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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas State University-Beebe will present a special Veterans Salute on Nov. 9. on the campus of ASU-Beebe beginning at 11 a.m. Volunteers for the event include, kneeling, Isabella Franklin, left, and Drake Henderson; and standing, from left, ROTC Instructor Rex Thomen, cadet Ashley Paden, Roger Moore and Caitlin Harlan. - Photo by William Harvey

— Veterans and their families have sacrificed a lot for the nation’s security, and Arkansas State University-Beebe will wrap up its 90th-anniversary-celebration series with a special Veterans Salute.

Carissa Gillam, special-events coordinator at ASU-Beebe, said the event will take place on the Beebe campus, but is in honor of ASU’s Little Rock Air Force Base campus.

The Nov. 9 event will be free and open to the public.

Gillam said the activities will include not only a Veterans Salute ceremony, but music, an obstacle course, Black Hawk helicopters, a special speaker, exhibits, vendors and more.

Exhibits and vendors will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Veterans Salute Ceremony will take place from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

“The ASU-Beebe Symphonic Band will be playing a prelude before the ceremony begins. They’ll play the national anthem for us, and our ROTC will do the color guard for us,” she said.

Gillam said Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin will speak at the event.

“After he gives the keynote address, we’ll have another special song from our band. They’ll play all of the anthems for all of the different branches [of the military], and veterans will stand when their branch’s song plays,” she said.

The Army National Guard will provide an inflatable obstacle course, she said, as well as two Black Hawk helicopters from Camp Robinson for participants to observe.

Students will have an opportunity to go through and look inside the helicopters, she said.

Gillam said military recruiters will have booths set up as well, and local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups have been invited to attend.

“The 90th-anniversary events are a way to thank the community for 90 years of support. We want them to feel welcome on campus and to remind them of the programs we offer, and that we’re a veteran-friendly school,” she said.

Maj. Rex Thomen, ROTC instructor at ASU-Beebe, said the ROTC program on campus has grown over the past few years.

“When I came on board, there were 12 cadets. The next semester, we had 23. This semester, we had 52 cadets enrolled,” he said.

Thomen described ASU-Beebe’s cadets as service-oriented and eager to give back.

“They come from all walks of life, both men and women, and they are here to serve our nation,” he said.

“We treat everyone like family — we coach, teach and mentor everyone. When students join, there is a lot of support, and they care for each other.”

Many cadets in the ROTC program are also in the Army National Guard, he said, and compete for the Minuteman Scholarship.

Two students, Cadet Ashley Paden and Cadet Landon Grimmett, are both contracted with the Arkansas Army National Guard 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, he said.

Paden, a junior at ASU-Beebe, said ROTC builds her up to be a better person.

“Leadership skills — I’ve learned how to communicate effectively with people. I’ve learned to empathize with people. It’s a wonderful program, and it also builds a family,” she said.

The Veterans Salute is important because it shows how much the campus supports our veterans, she said.

“They signed up to give everything for the people they love, and I think it’s important for us to give something back to them to show that we do understand what they’re doing for us — and thank them for everything they’re doing — because not everyone can do it,” she said.

Grimmett, a sophomore at ASU-Beebe, said it’s nice to have events that bridge the gap between civilians and members of the military.

“It’s good to have events where it really gets us out and engaging to create that dialogue, so we can just interact between the two cultures because we’re one and the same at the end of the day,” he said.

ASU-Beebe interim Chancellor Roger Moore, a United States Navy Veteran, said the Veterans Salute will recognize the college’s long-standing partnership with the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“We’ve been a part of that air base for many years,” he said.

It’s important to recognize Veterans Day, he said, and the contributions that military members make, as well as the support that their families give to them.

“It’s important to recognize the sacrifice that veterans have made, but also the sacrifice of their families — the ones who stay behind. We often forget that they’re sacrificing quite a bit as well,” Moore said.

“This is a chance for us to serve those veterans who came before us, to honor their sacrifice, to let them know that we want to carry on their legacy,” Thomen said.

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

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