Friday, November 16, 2012

Chapel honors veterans

by Ashley Gill, Guest Writer

Students took the time to thank military veterans for their service during a ceremony on Monday.
Pacific Lutheran University held the annual Veterans Day service during chapel break in Lagerquist Concert Hall. “They really are the true heroes of America,” first-year ROTC member Hannah Hansen said. “Their training and spirit in protecting America is just amazing. It’s not something that all of us have — it’s inspiring.” 
Ceremonial flags donated by Military Memorabilia of Lakewood, Wash. were positioned on the stage and a slide show displayed photos of veterans. Students, faculty and community members came together to honor veterans and celebrate the holiday.
The ceremony included guest speaker Leanna Davis, President of the PLU Student Veterans Association and former member of the Air Force. The Brass Quintet, which included Raymond DeLeon, Foster Robertson, Kristen Monk, Kathryn Jahnsen and Chris Wessel performed along with vocalist Erin White. Cadet Kiyeon Lee, Cadet Veronkia Munoz and Cadet Austin Ballard led the ROTC Color Guard.
Hansen said she “loved the service.” As part of the color guard, Hasen said the ceremonial presentation of the flags was her favorite part and added,  “the speakers were inspiring and opened my eyes to everything.” 
The Administrative Staff Council (ASC) was responsible for the Veterans Day ceremonies at PLU. The ASC Veterans Day Committee for this year’s service included Jennifer Gierke, Eileen Kemink and Alexandra Lampert.
“I love the planning,” Gierke said. “Getting everyone together for a good cause, trying to put together a good ceremony — I love it all.”
Gierke has been a faculty member for five years and helped plan last year’s ceremony as well. She is married to a veteran, and also has a grandfather who was a pilot in WWII and an uncle who was in the Navy. 
“They [veterans] have done a lot for their country,” Gierke said. “They do this by choice. Not all of them come back as a whole person and not all of them come back at all, so we need to keep that appreciation alive.”
Bob Rahal, human recourses technician for PLU’s army ROTC program, was involved with the planning of Monday’s service, and also served as the master of ceremonies. Rahal has been a faculty member at PLU for seven years and has helped plan the  last three Veterans Day ceremonies, participating as a guest speaker during the first of these.
Rahal, a retired army veteran, worked his way up to sergeant first class. He said after 21 years of active duty, a “small brotherhood” of service members forms. “It means a lot to me to have been a part of the military,”  Rahal said.
Although he said he enjoyed the service and the guest speakers, he explained it was the playing of Taps and the service songs that moved him.
“It’s the part where you actually recognize the soldiers and service members,” Rahal said. “We have to honor these men and women. We have to reward them and look after them, mentally, morally and physically.”
Similarly, Gierke said,“I just want to thank every veteran out there for signing up.”