November 6, 2020 : By Ted Allen - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Liberty University’s annual Military Emphasis Week starts Sunday, featuring a series of events and recognition ceremonies honoring online and residential students, alumni, faculty, and staff who have served or are currently serving in the United States military.
“Our founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, led Liberty University by example, demonstrating the consistency of Christianity, patriotism, and love of country,” Liberty Office of Military Affairs Director Emily Foutz said. “Military Emphasis Week seeks to carry on this legacy … to give greater visibility, support and recognition to our military and veterans … (and) to show appreciation for the men and women who have served and are serving this great nation.”
The weeklong celebration will include a special Military Appreciation Convocation featuring veteran, author, evangelist, and Liberty Board of Trustees member Tim Lee. This virtual event, streamed by the Office of Spiritual Development on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., will be available for all students, faculty, and staff to watch as the Liberty community gathers remotely online to honor its service members and veterans.
More than 100 active and retired military members who are students, faculty, and staff are expected to attend a Veterans Reception on Thursday from 11 am.-2 p.m. in Liberty’s Veterans Center. The facility, located on the second floor of the Montview Student Union, was expanded last year; a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held during last fall’s Military Emphasis Week. The reception is an RSVP-only event due to COVID-19 restrictions, with only a certain number of veterans allowed at one time to maintain social distancing.
The week will conclude with Saturday’s Military Appreciation football game between the Flames and Western Carolina University at noon at Williams Stadium. That contest will have a limit of 1,000 fans on hand but will be streamed live on ESPN3 and broadcast on The Journey, 88.3-FM.
During a halftime ceremony, the Spirit of the Mountain marching band will play a medley of service songs honoring each branch of the military. Also, the winner of this year’s George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award — named in honor of a World War II veteran and longtime Liberty administrator — will be introduced. The award is presented annually to a U.S. Armed Forces veteran who went beyond the call of duty in demonstrating extraordinary heroism while in the service and has continued to be an outstanding ambassador in their community. Rogers, who died last year at age 100, was the first award recipient in 2010.
Prior to Saturday’s kickoff, Liberty will host its annual Valley View Mike Donahue 5-Miler, starting at 9 a.m. from the Hydaway Outdoor Center. This race, part of the Liberty Mountain Trail Series, is a tribute to Maj. Donahue, a Liberty alumnus (M.A. in Education ’08, Ed.D. ’10) and former assistant professor of military science for Liberty’s Army ROTC program who was killed by a Taliban suicide bombing attack on Sept. 16, 2014, in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was recognized posthumously in 2015 as the recipient of the George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award.
Members of Liberty’s Army ROTC program will present a Color Guard at a special pre-race ceremony honoring all those who have sacrificed their lives serving this nation and defending its freedom. The Maj. Donahue Award will also be presented to an Army ROTC cadet. (Race registration is available online with an option for military members stationed overseas and others supporting the cause to run it remotely. Packet pickup will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Friday in the LaHaye Rotunda and Saturday from 8-8:45 a.m. at the race site.)
From Sunday through Saturday, Nov. 14, the Liberty military and civilian community is invited to share personal testimonies or celebrate the veterans and current military service members in their lives by submitting photos, videos, inspirational stories, and shout-outs through the Office of Military Affairs’ social media outlets, using the hashtag #HonorThem on its Facebook page and Yammer Military Student Group platform.
Email MilitaryOutreach@liberty.edu for more information on any of the Military Emphasis Week events and activities.