Nov. 26, 2012
The mist from the breath of heavily bundled spectators huddled in plastic folding chairs melded into the early dawn light.
The names reflected off of the glass corners of the University Center plaza on Nov. 12. A volunteer speaker at a podium read from a list: “Lt. Cmdr. Thomas L. Robinson. Spc. Pedro Pena. Sgt. Steven Checo.”
The second annual Roll Call and Remembrance Day event, part of the National Roll Call project that many universities participate in across the nation as a part of Student Veterans of America, was sponsored by the UCCS Student Veterans Association and the Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs.
Volunteers read a total of 6,633 names, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending between just before 4 p.m. The names read were from a comprehensive list of military personnel who have died to date from involvement in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The UCCS ROTC Color Guard placed the flags as part of the opening ceremony when the readings began.
The event also included a resource fair for students who are current or former members of the military, with 20 vendors scheduled for later in the morning.
The participants reading varied in age, ethnicity and background but shared a common desire to commemorate the fallen. Some had relatives who are or have served in the military.
One of the first readers was MP Spc. Gunner Kristi Smith, the president of the UCCS Student Veterans Association and a participant in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Beth Cutter, an instructor in the College of Education, another one of the earlier readers, said, “Members of our armed forces have made a tremendous sacrifice, and the least we can do is acknowledge it. Every one of these names is some mother’s child, and we want to honor that.”
Similarly, Tamara Moore, director of Auxiliary Services Marketing and another reader, commented, “A life seemed like a pretty big price to pay. My day-to-day problems seemed pretty small compared to someone who decided to give their life, so I wanted to honor that.”
Inside University Center and Berger Hall, Phillip Morris, the director of the Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs, oversaw the volunteers checking in at a table for their reading times along with his two assistants, Rusty Coomes and Natasha Bergeron.
“I served in the army, as all of our veterans here, and …. most college students …. now are the age where they’ve probably, if they’ve served, a good portion of them at least, have served in the post 9/11 [environment] and have done deployments,” Morris said.
“Again, any of our names could be on the list,” he said. “I think that if my name were on the list … my family members would be happy to know that colleges around the country are remembering that. So I think it’s good that we do it.”
Morris added, “I think it’s a good time for the campus – all the faculty, staff, students, everyone – to recognize the sacrifices that a lot of our young men and women have made.”