Members of the armed services who have lost their lives since the 9/11 terrorist attacks were honored on Veterans’ Day by the UM College Republicans. The memorial featured the name, rank and branch of service, as well as the location and date of death, of each service member up to and including those who were killed when an army transport helicopter was shot down by hostile fire on Nov. 2.
For Pierre Gunnaurd, Chairman of the College Republicans, the decision to have a memorial honoring these fallen service members was important.
“Rarely in public, and even less on campus, do people really recognize the amazing service that these soldiers have done for our country,” Gunnaurd said. “Even though this is only one day in the year, it’s really important to recognize the sacrifice of these men and women.”
Corrine Williams, first vice-chair for the UM College Republicans, shared Gunnaurd’s sentiment.
“We wanted to show how much those who have sacrificed their lives for our country mean to us,” Williams said. “So we made up this display in order to bring awareness to the student body. A lot of people don’t even know it’s Veterans’ Day.”
Approximately 450 names compiled from an official Department of Defense press releases were displayed on the Rock for students to view. No differentiation was made for rank or branch of service or even circumstances of death.
All 54 members of the Army and Navy who died as a result of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon were the very first names on the list.
According to organizers, many of the deaths were from hostile fire in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Milton Grey, sophomore, appreciated the connection with 9/11.
“I like the fact that the memorial has specifically mentioned September 11,” Grey said. “I think they should do this more often.”
Junior Slava Borshchukov also appreciated the connection.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen something since 9/11 that’s dedicated to the military services,” Borshchukov said. “These are the actual people that fought for and defended our country in Iraq and Afghanistan and took the initiative to stop terrorism.”
Part of the display also highlighted the joint sacrifices of all branches of the service and included the flags of all four armed services as well as the American flag.
The Navy recruiting command for the Southeast United States and Caribbean donated a Navy flag for use in the memorial. The Air Force Honor Guard detail based at Homestead Air Force Base donated that service’s standard.
According to organizers, the main theme of the memorial that they wanted students to walk away with was the sacrifice of the individuals whose names appeared on the display.
Most students who visited the memorial did just that.
“I think it’s a really beautiful thing to do,” Natalie Rico, senior, said. “It’s important to acknowledge people who have given their lives for our country, and it gives you a good feeling to see that.”
Scott Wacholtz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org