Veterans Day is a day to remember, thank and honor those who have served and are serving in the Armed Forces. Several University of Tennessee students and faculty congregated to honor those veterans at the National Day of Remembrance and Roll Call sponsored by the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans, the Student Veteran Advisory Group, Office of Veterans Affairs, the Center for the Study of War and Society, CAPS Veteran Pre-College Program, and UT libraries.
This was the third annual Day of Remembrance and Roll Call held at UT. It was one of 85 schools in the U.S. that participated in this event which was started by Eastern Kentucky University in 2011.
According to Laura Bryant, assistant director for UT’s Safety, Environment, and Education (SEE) Center, the main goal of this event was to give students and faculty a place to celebrate Veterans Day in any way they needed to.
“I hope that students will have a space to come on Veterans Day to be able to recognize and acknowledge soldiers who have fallen and soldiers who are serving and to be able to take that time,” Bryant said. “However they need to take it either it’s by sitting and listening to the reading or participating as a reader, placing a flag in the garden, but that it will be something that they need as a way to celebrate the day.”
The names of 6,769 soldiers who have died since Sept. 11, 2001 were read aloud from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on this day. There was a flag garden where people could place an American flag symbolizing a veteran they knew on the south lawn of Ayers Hall. Ashley Blamey, the chair for the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans, and Ingrid Ruffin, another member of this group, led the Star Spangled Banner with many spectators joining in. At 2 p.m., a moment of silence was observed as the chimes from Ayers Hall played “Taps.”
Ron Tredway, UT’s director of employee and organizational development, was one of many readers who took time out their day to read the names of fallen soldiers. Tredway explained that his motivation stemmed from his and his family’s service in the Armed Forces.
“I’m a military veteran. I was in the Navy seven and a half years, and it’s something that I think we often forget about the veterans who have served,” Tredway said. “My dad served for 20 years in the Army. I served seven and a half years in the Navy. I have a son that’s currently serving in the National Guard, so it’s something near and dear to my heart. I think anytime your remembering those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice is an important and appropriate event.”
Several UT students made their way to observe the Roll Call. One in particular, Allyson Mason, a senior in Kinesiology, came to remember a friend she had lost in the Armed Forces.
“My best friend was actually killed in action in 2011, late 2011, and up until that point, I made sure to observe Veteran’s day cause my grandfather was a World War II vet and everything,” Mason said. “Once my friend got killed, it was just completely different. I took more time on days like today and Memorial Day and the 4th of July and things like that. My whole perspective of Veterans Day changed.”
Although Veterans Day only comes once a year, Tredway added that it gives a reminder to be thankful for things that are present everyday.
“It’s a reminder of the blessings we have, the sacrifices that have been made, and the things we so often take for granted. I know I take them for granted sometimes, and it’s just a good reminder,” Tredway said. “It kind of brings me back to the reality of how blessed we are and how many things we take for granted especially our freedom.”
Edited by Zach Dennis