Students and faculty from MSU Denver, CU Denver and CCD gathered in the Tivoli Turnhalle on Nov. 9 to observe a ceremony that celebrated veterans both on and off campus. The event was attended by veterans from multiple generations, uniting those who served our country throughout the past century.
The ceremony celebrated the shared patriotism of those who chose to serve their country and also highlighted the unique experiences of those who have served. The event encouraged discussion between veterans and civilians in order to bolster understanding. Janine Davidson, president of MSU Denver, is a veteran herself who finds increasing isolation of military members and their service concerning.
“In a democracy, you really want people to be connected to their military so that they will support them if they go to war, or so they will lobby lawmakers if they think the war is wrong,” Davidson said.
With only around eight percent of Americans having ever served in the armed forces, many in the audience feared a growing disconnect between those who have served and those who haven’t.
Veterans will say only a minority of Americans are intimately familiar with the reality of service. If citizens have no connection to those who are in the armed forces they can become complacent around veteran issues.
Misunderstandings can occur between civilians and veterans, but also with family members that currently serve. Lauren Sullivan, the event organizer, grew up in a service family and is now a military spouse. She often feels like people make false assumptions about what it is like to be in a family of soldiers.
“People really think that it is this hard, really sacrificial life, but they don’t see the positive aspects of it that are amazing, the places you get to live and the friends you make,” Sullivan said. “It really was a wonderful time in my life moving around as an Army family member, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
With so few Americans having a relationship with someone who has served, many are unaware of how to properly honor and support those who have.
“I think just respect. There doesn’t need to be a parade every time we come out, just a simple ‘thank you for your service’ or just acknowledging that we served.” said student veteran Carlie Kolrud.
Davidson said communication is important when supporting veterans.
“I think the best way that you can support veterans is just to get to know them. Especially for students,” Davidson said. “Get to know them, get comfortable with them, ask them about their experiences.”
For Stuart “Boot” Gordon, a WWII and Korean War veteran, celebrating those who’ve served is the right thing to do, but is wary of excessive glorification. He said that honoring veterans could help glorify war.
“See, when I came home from the war no one thanked me, no one asked me what I did. No one asked me where I was. They didn’t care,” said Gordon. “It’s interesting that today people are now thanking me and honoring me.”
John Holland also remembers being treated poorly after coming home from the Vietnam war, but observes a recent increase in acknowledgement of those who have served.
“Along comes Desert Storm and America got in touch with veterans. There has been a real upsurge in the respect that we receive and the good treatment by the American public,” Holland said.
Events such as this one serve not only to honor those who have served, but to encourage dialogue between all those in attendance. Students, veterans and faculty members all shared tables. Discussions thrived during the lunch that took place within the ceremony.
“This event is meant to celebrate the veterans and also kind of give a little insight into the veteran world and military world for civilians that might not have exposure to that,” Sullivan said.
She believes more events like these can help bridge the gap between those who have served, and those who haven’t.
For footage of last weeks Veteran’s Day Parade click here