Veterans Day makes its way to UM campus with ‘Warrior Breakfast,’ ‘Dance for Troops’

By Katie Landeck

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Veterans Day was created after World War I as a celebration of world peace. However, when that peace proved to be fleeting, the holiday transformed into a day to honor and thank living veterans, and to remember those who died fighting for our country.

At the University of Massachusetts an assortment of events have taken place this week to honor veterans, including veteran recognition at halftime of last weekend’s football game versus Maine at McGuirk Stadium, a ‘Warrior Breakfast’ on Monday morning, and a vigil in Memorial Hall at Wednesday, along with a semi-formal “Dance for Troops” later that night in the Student Union Ball Room.

The “Dance for Troops” was hosted by University Programming Council, and donations were accepted at the door for the United Service Organization (USO). USO is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing morale and entertainment services to military personnel and their families.

“We hope that by having these events there will be greater awareness of the student veterans on campus,” said Judy Gagnon, coordinator of Veteran Services. “We want them to know that this community will continue to grow and that they are committed to bettering themselves.”

According to Gagnon, approximately 30 people attended the ‘Warrior Breakfast,’ an event that veterans specifically asked for, and that was open to students, faculty and veterans alike.

Despite the number of events offered on campus to celebrate the holiday, relatively few students seem to be taking part in them.

“I haven’t heard anything about the events being offered,” said freshman Danielle Desmond, whose father is a veteran. “Truthfully, it is just one of those days in the middle of the week where we don’t have class. I feel like it should mean more than that, but it doesn’t to me.”

Senior Kevin Wiesehahn echoed similar sentiments. “I have not heard about any of the events on campus, but even if I had, I wouldn’t have gone to them. It just doesn’t interest me.”

This attitude towards Veterans Day can be seen appearing sporadically across the country. In an article published in “Livingston Daily” on Nov. 7, author Christopher Nagy makes the point that many Americans forget Veterans Day unless they know someone who is a veteran.

Amelia Stehn, a senior at Smith College, whose father is a veteran, finds the holiday to be significant.

“My dad is in the Coast Guard and I spent the two years before I came to college living on a military base,” she said. “My father served in war time and he lost a lot of friends, and so did I. Now, I spend a lot of the day praying and remembering.”

Other students that have connections to veterans, such as freshman Steph Roy, call family members that have served. Still others, like freshman Talia Gottesman, tend to think about the sacrifices made by family members.

Many people that do not celebrate Veterans Day still believe that the holiday carries significance.

“It is important, because it is a tradition and part of our culture, regardless of if everyone takes meaning from it,” said junior Yu Lin. “Every culture has a holiday like this, one that is not popular, but has meaning.”

From Stehn’s perspective, it is okay if some people miss or simply do not care about the meaning of Veterans Day.

“It doesn’t take anything away from me, so I don’t begrudge the people that don’t care,” she said. “If you need to ignore the war and the world and the horror to be happy, do it.”           

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected]