Correction: The cutline under the photo accompanying the print copy of this article, published on Nov. 17, read that the people in the photo were from the VSU ROTC. Instead, they are Team Moody from the Moody Air Force Base.
The front lawn was covered with 52 VSU and community volunteers on Nov 11 at 8 a.m., showing respect to soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
VSU and the Valdosta community participated in the National Roll Call ceremony honoring over 6,300 fallen American soldiers from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The ceremony lasted seven hours beginning with an introduction from Patricia Hinton, military outreach group liaison with VSU’s Adult Degree Completion & Military Programs and advisor to VSU Vets, the host organization for the National Roll Call.
Before the names were called, VSU Interim President Dr. Louis H. Levy spoke about the liberties the fallen soldiers have provided. Levy served as a medic in the Army in the early 1970s.
Team Moody air men also came to render the fallen warrior display lead by Senior Airman Latavius Johnson. The air men used boots, a rifle, American government issued tags and a helmet to create what is known as a battlefield cross.
Veterans Day fell on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year and the 10th year of the post Sept. 11 tragedy, making it an extremely important day.
The Veterans Knowledge Community of NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education sponsored the National Roll Call nationwide. NASPA has more than 12,000 members in every state, 29 countries and eight United States territories.
Individuals were given the opportunity to write letters to active-duty military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan though the That Others May Live Foundation. TOML is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships, family counseling and aid to surviving children of Air Force Rescue Heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I think that it is a good thing to show the veterans that they matter and that people still care about what they have done for their country, and they should be honored for that,” Willie Tyson, criminal justice major said.
NASPA advocates for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession at colleges and universities. The Veterans Knowledge Community focuses its efforts on student veterans and ensuring that their unique needs are being met.
Fifty two volunteers took turns reading the names of the soldiers, such as the eight Team Moody members that died. The reading of the names was paused briefly by a moment of silence and the sound of “Taps” at 2 p.m.
Mark Smith, the president of VSU’s chapter of Student Veterans of America and military and veteran liaison for VSU’s Adult Degree Completion & Military Programs, said that the program went well and looks forward to it becoming an annual event.
“I would like it to be done every year,” he said. “I know this year was significant because of the date, but I think you should remember those who have fallen every Veterans Day.”
Smith is also a VSU senior, a retired Air Force master sergeant and president of VSU Vets.
Only a small group of students came to the event. Some students said that the ceremony could have been better advertised but are excited about the future of this event.
“The ceremony should occur annually,” Bridgitte Ivey, a senior, English major, said. “Too many people forget what this country stands on and for.”
For more information about the National Roll Call in Valdosta, call Smith at (229) 253-2873 or AMP@valdosta.edu. For web information, visit icasualties.org, www.naspa.org, and www.thatothersmaylive.org.