Waving flags and wearing red, white and blue always happens the first week of July, but at Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C., the annual demonstration of patriotism begins a little earlier. For the past five years, during the month of June, Team Oconee has participated in the Honoring Their Service program, which welcomes active and retired U.S. Marines to upstate South Carolina.
This year, 40 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., were paired with local host families from the Keowee Key community for four days of fun-filled activities and relaxation. The Marines arrive in the upstate and travel in open-air jeeps from Easley, S.C., through the communities of Liberty, Central, Clemson, Seneca and Salem. The 25 to 30 jeeps are escorted along the 44-mile route by hundreds of motorcyclists, and thousands of citizens line the streets and highways, waving their flags and saluting these heroes. The final leg of the route runs past Oconee Nuclear Station, where plant management and employees join the throngs in welcoming the Marines and thanking them for their service.
The World of Energy, Oconee’s education center, is the end point of the welcoming parade, where each Marine meets his or her host family for the week. The hosts allow each Marine to choose from a number of activities, such as kayaking, hiking, fishing and water-skiing, each day. And each night, the entire group is honored by appreciation nights planned for the Marines by local communities. At the end of the week, the Marines are invited to participate in one of the most memorable traditions of the upstate – running down the hill into Clemson University’s famous Memorial Stadium – just like Clemson’s football team does before every home game.
Duke Energy is proud to participate in programs like Honoring Their Service and to provide support for employees who are veterans or those who are transitioning into the workforce after active duty. The Security workforce at our nuclear plants, in particular, is made up of many fine veterans who continue to provide their expertise to keep us safe.