By Olivia Wolfson
For The Diamondback
Members of the University of Maryland’s ROTC stood stoically in front of the Memorial Chapel on Thursday, as part of a vigil to honor Veterans Day.
Bagpipes played by Olivia Corcoran, a senior civil engineering major, roared in the background as two student cadets stood on the chapel steps in solidarity of this university’s veterans. The vigil was a part of the Veteran Student Life’s “Veterans Week” program and featured cadets from the Navy, Army and Air Force.
A mass preceded the vigil with a variety of speakers, including remarks from university President Darryll Pines, veterans, the Lutheran Campus Ministry and Jewish student group Hillel. TerpVets also paid tribute by reading the names of 116 veterans of this university who have died from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021.
The chapel began hosting the vigil in 2008 as a part of the first Veterans Week program. The program hosts events throughout November for veterans of this university, including movie nights, dinners and axe throwing.
In light of Veterans Day, David Reese, coordinator for Veteran Student Life and a veteran infantry paratrooper deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, encouraged anyone who has the opportunity to meet veterans to do more than just thank them for their service by initiating a conversation.
“While there’s similarities between military service, everyone’s got their own unique story,” Reese said. “I think asking those few questions can really help us share those stories and help us never forget that way.”
Bailey Sullivan, who represented the Lutheran Campus Ministry, lit a memorial candle and encouraged the service attendees to turn to their neighbor and share their story after thanking everyone for their service.
“As we light this candle, we think of the UMD men and women defending our freedoms,” the freshman economics and sociology major said. “These individuals hold dear our nation’s red, white, and blue and the University of Maryland alumni also hold dear other colors: red, gold, white and black.”
In his benediction, Hillel’s Rabbi Josh Lehman said it is important to not take individual freedoms for granted and to remember those who have fought for them.
“Many thousands take the ultimate sacrifice so that we can benefit from all our country has to offer,” Lehman said. “There have been times when veterans have felt unappreciated. We are here to say we recognize you. We thank you.”
Reese said events to commemorate veterans are important for staying connected with history and being an engaged citizen.
“With big events, whether it’s 9/11 or the Holocaust or anything, it’s always never forget,” Reese said. “I think events like this are ways we help everyone to not forget … This is a way to hear those stories and still stay connected to it and know what our history is.”