ROTC cadets submitted for their annual Presidential Review Friday morning and not a scuffed shoe or wrinkled uniform was present.
Each year BYU’s ROTC program holds their presidential review on the Friday closest to Veterans Day as a way to both show the troops and honor veterans.
The ceremony began with a wreath ceremony in the Memorial Lounge in the Wilkinson Center. Names of fallen soldiers from BYU were read, then distinguished guests, including BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson, laid a wreath next to the memorial.
Among veterans present was Gayle D. Heckl, a former BYU ROTC professor and full colonel in the air force.
“I’m here because of the price that people paid to protect our freedom,” Heckl said. “As they read those names, that sunk deep into my heart because I had friends that paid that ultimate price. They say this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, well, it is the land of the free because of the brave.”
During the ceremony, Major General Jefferson S. Burton, adjutant general for the Utah National Guard, was honored with the Patriot Award. Either the Patriot Award or the Leadership Excellence Award is given each to by BYU’s ROTC program.
“It was humbling and an honor to receive this award, especially when you consider past recipients,” Burton said. “But really this award is a recognition of those that I have had the privilege to serve with. Awards are not earned by individuals. As we say in the military, it’s a team sport.”
During his speech, Burton recalled a conversation with last year’s award recipient, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
“He said that on top of every Latter-day Saint temple is the statue of a soldier,” Burton said. “The Lord entrusted two soldiers, Mormon and Moroni, to abridge and compile the entire record of a people and hide that record up that we may have it as this time.”
After the ceremony, Burton took the time to shake the hand of each ROTC cadet. He said that he would have taken the time to sit down and talk to every cadet, had the time allowed.
“What I tried to say is to be men and women of good character,” he said. “It is so important to be men and women of good character, especially when you are leading soldiers into battle, as many of these (cadets) will have to do.”
Trevor Findlay, a finance major, led the Army ROTC cadets, calling out orders as they marched to and from the ceremony.
“We practiced a lot. We went through seven to eight rehearsals, so a lot of hours went into it,” Findlay said. “We wanted to be spot on.”
The preparation was evident as the cadets appeared to march in perfect unison. The pressure the cadets felt to be at their best became evident when, while standing in formation waiting for he review to begin, one Air Force cadet fainted.
“There is a lot of pressure, obviously, because we have cadets pass out almost every year,” Findlay said. “If I messed up an order, it makes everyone mess up. It was really stressful, I lost some sleep over it.”