Mercer students recently marched in honor of veterans and won an award for their efforts. The University’s Army ROTC Battalion and Henry County Regional Academic Center (RAC) teamed up to submit a video for the 2020 Virtual Veterans Day Parade organized by the Georgia Veterans Day Association, and the Battalion was named the best marching unit.
The Georgia Veterans Day Association holds a celebration for Veterans Day every year, and Mercer’s entire Army ROTC Battalion marched in the parade for the first time in 2016, said retired Lt. Col. Scott Mahone, director of operations for the Regional Academic Centers and liaison for military recruitment at Mercer.
The parade was held virtually this year, and Mercer was invited to participate. Videos were submitted by institutions, organizations and companies across the state, and all the clips were compiled into a 30-minute video posted on Facebook on Saturday. Look for Mercer at the 27:17 mark.
“I was so tickled and elated to receive the good news on Saturday that Mercer University had won the best marching category,” Mahone said. “It demonstrates to our veterans and military-connected service members and their families just how proud and supportive their university is.”
The first part of the Mercer video shows the Army ROTC Battalion marching in formation across the Macon campus. Cadet Morrice Smith — Battalion Logistics Officer and senior computer science major — organized, filmed and edited this part and combined it with the informational portion of the video that follows.
“I’m really proud that we won the award,” said Smith, who will be commissioned into the U.S. Army after he graduates. “I’m glad to be able to represent us in the Veterans Day parade for all of us who served. Thank you to Lt. Col. Mahone for allowing us to be a part of this and show Georgia exactly what Mercer ROTC has.”
The second part of the video was filmed by Assistant Director of RAC Operations Jamie Brown. In it, student ambassadors Kelly Browning and Tiara Conley talk about the University’s dedication to supporting military service members.
“Our University was Georgia’s first Purple Heart University. In 2015, when we were competing for that great honor, there were only 19 other universities nationwide who had been able to achieve that designation,” Mahone said.
In addition, Mercer was named a 2020-2021 Top 10 Gold Military Friendly School and was voted Best for Vets in 2020 by U.S. News and World Report. Mercer now has 344 veterans or military-connected students, a record for the University, Mahone said. Every year, the University presents graduating veterans and active duty service members with military honor cords and distributes appreciation gifts to veterans on Veterans Day.
“I think what (this award) means to many of the cadets and for veterans like myself is the fact that Mercer takes service seriously,” Mahone said. “We’re talking about how we say at Mercer ‘Everyone majors in changing the world.’ When you have a university like Mercer that puts so much effort into helping our world become a better place, what better place to start than with our military men and women?”