Brian Ahern, Contributing Writer
The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the ROTC club hosted a Remembrance Day ceremony on Monday to commemorate all of the fallen soldiers in and during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 32 readers, including students, faculty and staff, continuously read off the names of the 7,779 men and women who died in the conflicts. The event lasted all day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., ending in a convocation led by Father Thomas Esposito and a flag lowering ceremony.
The ceremony has become an annual event since the 10th anniversary of 9/11, making this its third year. The ROTC club made a special effort this year to bring the event to the university’s awareness and decorated the campus with the flags of each of the branches of the military. This was the first year in which faculty volunteered to read.
The ceremony took place in Gorman faculty lounge, which, according to Nick Hedlesky, the senior member in charge of the event, was a location that “was central to campus, and with the windows there it was more viewable, which made it more public to everyone.”
Plenty of people attended the event, but there were often times when no one was present. Despite that, the names of dead continued vigilantly to be read out in an empty room, a fact that solidified the solemnity of the occasion, and added a note of sadness.
A table was set up at the ceremony specially designated to honor the three UD alumni who had fallen in military service, including Michael Hugh Fanning and Joseph Wacker, both of whom died in the Vietnam War, and Eric Hamm, who died in 1994 during a military training exercise in Japan.
In addition to this event, the ROTC club, with the support of Aramark, set up a Missing Man’s table, dressed in a white table cloth and set with empty plates, glasses and chairs, with a different hat of each of the military branches at each place, in the cafeteria, serving as a reminder of the fallen veterans to all who walk by.
The members of the ROTC club were quick to express their appreciation for the solemn beauty of the ceremony.
“It’s really powerful just to hear name after name. It’s really a beautiful thing. There’s something about [it] that is very moving,” said junior Zach Kraus.
“I honestly think it’s wonderful that they’re coming and honoring all the veterans,” said Clarisse Finders, a civilian member of the ROTC club.
“My grandfather was a veteran in World War II and he died last year, so this is a little bit bittersweet but … I’m happy to see [veterans] honored in this way.”
Hedlesky was very appreciative of University of Dallas’ support of the ROTC event.
“We wouldn’t be able to do any of these events without the support of the campus, so we really respect all of our readers, all of the people who stopped in,” he said. “We really appreciate all of the support that we have been given and UD has always been great at giving us that support.”