To mark Veterans Day on Nov. 11, special traditions and memorials to honor soldiers, both living and deceased, will be featured on the University of Massachusetts campus starting Friday.
“We have a strong veteran community here,” said 23-year-old veteran and UMass freshman Kalman Cagan-Teuber. He fought in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The third annual Warrior Breakfast will be held at 9 a.m. in Memorial Hall for veteran students, faculty, alumni and their families, as well as a Veteran’s Day Vigil at 4 p.m., according to a news release.
The vigil and a firing party will be rendering the 21 Gun Salute, according to a press release. It will be hosted by the Army and Air Force ROTC and UMass Veteran Services, will last until sunrise on Saturday, the release said
Fallen Soldiers tables will be set up in each dining hall through Monday to honor soldiers who died in service as well as soldiers who were prisoners of war, missing in action and killed in action.
“Traditions and mentorship – that’s instilled in us,” Cagan-Teuber said.
“We’re saving a seat for our buddies (who died).”
Cagan-Teuber said each table will be set with symbolic components, including “an overturned drinking glass for those who cannot toast with us,” a lemon on the table to symbolize the bitterness of the lost soldier’s fate, salt to mimic tears of family members and a blank set of dog tags to represent the ubiquity of danger that comes with life as a soldier.
“It could be any one of us,” Cagan-Teuber said.
A red rose symbolizes graveyard flowers, the color representing blood, Cagan-Teube said. The rose “pays homage not only to soldiers, but also family and loved ones of servicemen or women,” she said.
Brendan Davenport, vice president of VeteranONE, encourages students to think about what a veteran means to them personally and to ask veterans appropriate questions.
“Take a moment to reflect,” he said. “Don’t ask if we’ve killed anybody.”
Davenport advised veterans to “reflect on their service and to remember their friends who are still serving and may never return.”
Mary Reines can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.