Stirring, touching and countless other goose-bump emotions riveted the Middle Tennessee State University campus Saturday during the 32nd annual Salute to Armed Services.
As part of MTSU's "Red, White and Blue Weekend" two days before the nation honors its former service members and active-duty personnel on Veterans Day, the university rolled out the red carpet for hundreds who served or continue to serve their country.
Activities included a ceremony at the MTSU Veterans Memorial site outside the Tom H. Jackson Building; a picnic and presentation of the 24th annual Joe Nunley Award at the Emmett and Rose Kennon Hall of Fame; and a musically inspired halftime full of patriotism in Floyd Stadium.
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ed Smith of Brentwood, Tenn., received the Nunley award.
"It really hasn't sunk in. I'm still really surprised," said Smith, who was joined at the event by his wife, Molly, son Greg and daughter-in-law Jan.
At halftime, the nearly 340-member Band of Blue performed official military songs as each of the branches of military went across Jones Field. American Idol top-10 finalist Kristy Lee Cook sang "God Bless America."
Blue Raider football player and former Marine Steven Rhodes carried the U.S. flag while leading his teammates and coaches onto the field before the game against Florida International University. The Blue Raiders became bowl eligible in their 48-0 victory.
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