On a breezy Monday afternoon, the American flag waved full mass as Binghamton University students, faculty and veterans gathered in front of the Couper Administration Building to commemorate past and current U.S. service members for Veterans Day.
The ceremony aimed to honor those who have served in the armed forces, and remind attendees of their rights, according to Paul Stroud, host of the event and director of student affairs policy analysis, compliance and veteran services.
“The only thing is, I hope people take a moment to really think about the freedoms we have, more importantly how we have them,” Stroud said. “For a brief moment to think that there are people who answered the call, who gave all kinds of things so that we could enjoy our freedoms.”
According to Stroud, the Office of Veteran Services has hosted the Veterans Day ceremony for about seven years. Most of the event consisted of a smaller gathering of faculty, local veterans and BU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student cadets. The ROTC is a military program by which high school and university students train to become future military officers in a variety of branches. All attendees stood silently as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, resonating throughout the Peace Quad. Among the faculty, BU President Harvey Stenger also attended the event.
Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, gave a speech discussing the history of Veterans Day since its commemoration at the end of World War I, when it was first called Armistice Day.
“In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday in which we honor all members of all branches in the military who have served in any time,” Rose said.
Rose also mentioned the sacrifices service members make when choosing to join the military.
“There are so many dimensions to that sacrifice,” Rose said. “They receive no guarantees about where they [are] assigned, where they are deployed or whether they will endure combat and for how long.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, Stroud handed out red poppy pins, explaining the flower’s significance.
“It actually goes back to World War I,” Stroud said. “The story is that there was a doctor who was operating on a soldier right by this field that was completely torn up by the war. Within this war-torn field everything was gone, except poppies were growing.”
Though only a handful of students came to the ceremony, ROTC BU cadets raised the flags of the United States and New York state. Sean Kaplan, a sophomore majoring in accounting and a cadet who raised the colors at noon, said his grandfather and grandfather’s brothers all served in different branches during World War II, and his father has served in the army. Soon enough, Kaplan said, he hopes to follow in their footsteps.
He added that students should acknowledge Veterans Day and its significance.
“I hope students take away that throughout the history of the country, a lot of people have sacrificed a lot at some point in their lives,” Kaplan says. “I hope that people recognize the sacrifices people make every day.”
As the event came to a close, Rose expressed gratitude for all past and current service members.
“To anyone here who has served or is serving, thank you,” Rose said. “Your service is humbling, inspirational and not taken for granted.”