Ethan Lam / The Daily Gamecock

Veterans honored with parade, leadership panel

USC and Columbia pulled out all the stops to celebrate veterans throughout Veterans Day weekend. Two main events held on Friday were a leadership panel discussion and community Veterans Day parade.

One of the biggest events was the annual Veterans Day Parade on Friday. The parade, put together by the City of Columbia, featured many local military and veteran associations marching down Sumter Street in the early afternoon.

State Rep. James Smith, himself a veteran, opened the event with a speech on the sacrifices and contributions made by veterans and their families. 

On campus, USC recognized veterans with a Veterans Day Leadership Panel at the Darla Moore School of Business. The event was hosted by the Student Veterans Association, Army ROTC and Veteran's Alumni Council.

The two-part panel, moderated by former journalism and mass communications dean Charles Bierbauer, featured 12 guest speakers from the community who each spoke on the value of leadership skills that veterans possess. 

Fourth-year public relations student Jamie O'Keefe helped put the panel together as part of her work for the Carolina Agency.

For O'Keefe, the panel was a chance to highlight the leadership of veterans for those in the business world.

"Veterans are a great asset, and they learn really excellent leadership skills in the military and they can use them after the military experience," she said. 

Grant Gibbs, head of the Carolina Agency, said that they plan to make the leadership panel and annual event. 

"We wanted to build on the Veterans Day breakfast the university already holds and give veterans a full day of events to attend to celebrate their service in the military," he said. "The SVA, Army ROTC and the VAC leadership plan to showcase the positive values of veterans for years to come in order to support the local and national military community."

Appreciation for veterans was also on display at athletic events around campus throughout the weekend. Many veterans with ties to USC were honored on the field during Gamecock football's win over the Florida Gators, and The Mighty Sound of the Southeast will honor the different military branches in their halftime show at the Wofford game on Nov. 18.

A seat in Colonial Life Arena was also dedicated as "POW/MIA" seat to recognize soldiers missing in action and being held as prisoners of war.

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