Red, white and blue balloons surrounded the Tivoli Commons when Auraria came together to celebrate veterans Nov. 8.
The swing sounds of Reveille 3, a tribute band to the Andrews Sisters, kicked off the events with songs like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” and “Rum and Coca Cola.”
Attention was then given to the Scottish American Military Society as they marched toward the Tivoli Commons from the East in a horizontal line formation with bagpipes playing behind them.
After “a-ten-hut” was called, members of the MSU Denver Army ROTC raised and saluted the flag while a trumpeter played the National Anthem.
A “Tribute to the Flag” poem was read by Martha Eaton, master chief petty officer of the Navy and assistant director of the Health Center at Auraria. After the reading, the presidents of each school gave speeches to honor the servicemen and women’s courage, sacrifice, and honor of coming back home to complete their higher education.
“To live honorably is a tall order,” said MSU Denver president Dr. Stephen Jordan. “We are fortunate enough to work and to study with veterans and service people who have experienced this ideal, reminding us of what it is to make honor a daily practice.”
CCD Interim President Cliff Richardson spoke of the tremendous courage it takes to sign up for the military knowing one will be in harm’s way. He related a personal story of his nephew who could not handle the transition back to school or the bureaucracies that came with it.
“Going to college takes tremendous courage, just like taking on the service you did for your country,” he said. “Take the right choice. Stick with your educational goals and move on with your life. Thank you for serving your country — serving me — and now I want to help you be successful so that you can be the citizen you deserve to be.”
A brief closing statement was given by Jarod Solano, president of student veterans at MSU Denver, who served in Japan and then Iraq in 2005.
He thanked the three schools for their commitment to creating a supportive and welcoming environment for veterans on campus, and paid tribute to two of his fellow servicemen.
“I would like to take a few moments to remember our fallen brothers and sisters in arms,” Solano said. “This past fall, Metro State University of Denver lost two of our own student veterans. Army Specialist Jesse Pringle was preparing for his second deployment in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Ryan Riley, an Army ranger, was currently serving as a fire support sergeant. Both were tragically lost in motor vehicle incidents earlier this year.”
The ceremony ended with a moment of silence to honor them and all the other fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes as red, white and blue balloons were released up into the air.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” Solano said. “Being able to step up and push yourself not only physically but to be a more honorable more dedicated person. [Soldiers] are in a completely different world right now. Time is not moving in the way it is for us. When they leave, they don’t see everything that’s happened in our country, in our society, so when they come back it can be a complete shock. It’s a very profound life-changing event that occurs while you’re active duty. ”