BOONE, N.C. — More than 150 people gathered for Appalachian State University’s Veterans Day Ceremony Monday to honor and commend those who have served in the armed forces.
The ceremony, which took place at the Veterans Memorial located on Appalachian’s campus, included remarks from Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts and Appalachian alumnus and retired U.S. Army Maj. Ali Donnell Davis ’95 ’01. It began with the presentation of the colors by cadets in Appalachian’s Army ROTC program, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Everts, who welcomed the crowd, said, “Today we express our gratitude to all veterans, and especially to those in our audience. Your sacrifice, and that of your families, sustains our country and protects freedoms worldwide.”
Referring to the more than 380 student veterans and active-duty military members enrolled at Appalachian, she said, “Our recognition by national publications and our status for nearly a decade as a Military Friendly School affirm our commitment to strengthen resources for student veterans and active-duty military members at Appalachian.”
Introducing Davis, the event’s keynote speaker, Everts said, “Appalachian and communities around the world are better because of dedicated, selfless veterans like Major Davis.”
Davis opened his remarks by asking the audience to take a moment of silence for prisoners of war and those missing in action.
Gesturing to the assembled ROTC cadets and leadership at the ceremony, he said, “This is your future and these are your leaders.”
Davis shared a story of his former middle-school teacher who was a Marine, and how his interaction with him impacted Davis’ perspective on Veterans Day and what it means to be an American.
“He talked about freedoms and how lucky we were to be Americans,” Davis said of his teacher. “He said, ‘Because of our freedoms, there is an American woman or man right now as we speak, laying on the ground in the cold, in the worst weather, whether it is here or whether it is abroad, to ensure that we have these luxuries.’”
Davis said, “There is somebody right now paying the ultimate sacrifice for us to be here. That’s what Veterans Day is. It took me many years to understand that.”
Davis then led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and subsequently encouraged attendees to continue to support the military community and reminded the audience to never forget the prisoners of war and those missing in action.
About Maj. Ali Donnell Davis
Davis, of Charlotte, joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1989. Throughout his military career, he held numerous posts, including rank one corps protection chemical officer and assistant chief of operations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He also served in several posts at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg and as assistant professor of military science and recruiting officer at the University of California, Berkeley.
Davis, who has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, retired in 2016 after more than 20 years of service to the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. Among his nearly two dozen awards and decorations are two Bronze Star medals, three Meritorious Service medals, the Army Achievement Medal and the Joint Service Achievement Medal.
Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in habilitative science in 1995 and a master’s degree in student development in 2001, both from Appalachian. He and his wife, Appalachian alumna Dr. Carmen Davis ’95, co-own Innovations Counseling and Consulting Services in Charlotte and have three children.
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A Military Friendly® School since 2010
Since 2010, VIQTORY (formerly known as Victory Media), the premier media entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life, has awarded Appalachian the designation of Military Friendly® School. The designation places Appalachian in the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation. In addition to a number of existing services, the university opened the Major General Edward M. Reeder Jr. Student Veteran Resource Center in November 2016.
About the Department of Military Science and Leadership
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Appalachian’s Department of Military Science and Leadership is home to the Mountaineer Battalion. Established in 1969, the program provides students with training to develop self-discipline, physical stamina and poise, as well as the organizational and motivational skills that contribute to success in any career. Students who complete the ROTC program earn credits for a minor in military science and leadership and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves or Army National Guard upon graduation.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.