If you walked past the Tivoli Student Union last week, you probably noticed the sea of American flags waving out front. Each one represented a veteran studying on the Auraria Campus, and on Nov. 9, CU Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Denver came together to honor those veterans.
“Service to others seems to be written into the veteran DNA,” said MSU President Janine Davidson.
The ceremony started with a tribute to longtime Auraria Campus staff member Carlos Moreno, who was recently killed in the Thornton Wal-Mart shooting. After a color guard and a trumpet rendition of the national anthem, a number of veterans either studying or working at the campus spoke in honor of the veterans at their schools.
Carlie Kolrud, vice president of CU Denver’s Student Veteran Organization, then gave a tribute to the flag.
“When I am torn in strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield, when I am flown at half mast to honor my soldiers, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave of their fallen son or daughter, I am proud,” she said.
Seven WWII veterans were presented with flags in honor of their service. One had been at Pearl Harbor, and they had served in some of the biggest conflicts of both theaters of the war.
Outside, a ceremony memorialized the veterans missing in action and left abroad overseas. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1 raised a flag and named every Colorado service member who went MIA in Vietnam, along with their hometowns and ages.
Davidson, an Air Force veteran, gave the keynote, talking about what veterans bring to the campus community and how the campus community can reciprocate. She noted that the Military Times named MSU Denver as among the best colleges for veterans. CU Denver has also been named to the best colleges for veterans list and has a similarly large veteran presence on campus, with about 1,000 student veterans.
There are 20 million veterans in the United States and 400,000 in Colorado. Davidson noted that they bring life experience, work ethic, act as role models, set a quality tone and respectfully challenge the norm. Unfortunately, most Americans have no real contact with the military, with only 1 percent serving. Most veterans have another family member who served.
“Serving in the military has become sort of a family business,” Davidson said. “When it comes to national defense, this is something we should watch for.”
It’s important to recognize veterans, be better informed, and to teach about war at institutions of higher education, Davidson said. “In academia, we don’t honor our veterans by ignoring the word ‘war.’ We honor our veterans by learning from our history, and from our mistakes.”
Photo at top courtesy of MSU/Aly McClaran.