This past Tuesday was Veterans Day and this may have slipped the minds of many people. For the group that gathered on the Davis campus for the Veterans Day celebration, it was an extremely emotional and symbolic holiday.
The event started out with a prayer, which thanked veterans for their service to the country.
“It was really special to me,” Mirabelle Rivera, a coordinator of the event said. ”I grew up in a military family, so this has always been a part of my life. I want to thank the troops.”
Names of fallen heroes were read – a process that drew tears to the eyes of presenters and readers.
“There was not a dry eye in the room,” Sheila Scott Simko, the federal-certified official for veterans affairs in the Veteran’s Services at Weber State said. Simko was also a co-planner of the event.
Throughout the program a PowerPoint created by Keith Ellis, a work study student, consisting of pictures of veterans and memorials played in the background. It depicted wars from the very first American war to the most recent.
“I worked side by side with (Rivera),” Ellis said. “I think it’s a good event for Weber State to put on. There are a lot of veteran students on campus – probably close to 3,000.”
He said the event was intended to reach out to and thank veterans, but also to let the younger generation know what veterans have sacrificed for this country.
“We’ve done (this event) annually on the main campus. I think they tried this two years ago on the Davis campus, but it never really got off the ground,” Ellis said. This was the first formal Davis campus celebration of the holiday.
Berni Davis, a woman serving as the director of state approving agency for veterans’ education, was one of three speakers at the conference.
“Some veterans have never felt thanked. They don’t get the same treatment as current members who go out in uniform and get thanked,” Davis said while explaining why she believed Veterans Day to be a crucial holiday.
Davis joined the military at a young age and completed basic training while still in high school.
Outside the ballroom where the main event was held, Stanley Martinez and wife Carla Martinez staffed a table to pull students in and hand out information.
Stanley Martinez served for 16 years in the U.S. Navy working on submarines while Carla Martinez worked as a cryptologist for the Department of Defense. Carla graduated from Weber State with her master’s degree in criminal justice in 2012.
“I’m proud to be a veteran. I would do it again in a second,” Carla said.
To bring the event to a close, the WSU ROTC color guard performed a flag ceremony.
One of the ROTC members, Madeline Meyer, feels Veterans Day is under-celebrated.
“As a soldier in the Army, I deserve the day off for fighting for my country,” Meyer said. “The federal government gets the day off, but everyone
else has to work. And that’s not very patriotic of us to do.”
Simko said the room had been full in the morning, though attendees trickled in and out throughout the day. Many of the people who came were students.
“Their teachers wanted them to be here and realize their freedom is not free,” she said.
Simko also felt that Veterans Day has been under-celebrated. “Are we doing enough?” she asked.
There are still homeless veterans, unemployed veterans and veterans with problems that need to be resolved.
“We need to focus on them: every day they serve and give up their lives, every day they’ve given up a day with their families,” Simko said. “We need to honor the heroes of the past as well as the heroes of the present.”