BYU to honor war veterans

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Veterans Day Events

Thursday Nov. 10 – Lecture with Sherman Fleek, a historian who recently published a book on Latter-day Saint medal of honor winners, in HBLL 3714 from 3 to 4 p.m.

Friday Nov. 11 – Wreath-laying ceremony in Memorial Hall in 2nd floor of the Wilk at 9 a.m.

Presidential review with President Samuelson at 9:30 a.m. in Brigham Square

Saints at War conference in conference center from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Salute to Armed Forces” with BYU football from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.

A Vietnam veteran walked in the door of the conference center for the Saints at War conference in 2001 in full uniform. Professor Robert Freeman was there to shake his hand and tell him thank you for serving our country.

“You know,” the veteran said. “I’ve waited 30 years for someone to thank me for serving my country.”

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Dewey Bowberg” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]
ROTC cadets carry the flag at last year's Veterans Day ceremony.
That is when Freeman decided this was something that needed to be done for other veterans too.

The Saints at War conference is an occasion to honor Latter-day Saint veterans of war. This year the conference is focusing on contributions in the Vietnam War.

The session opens at 10 a.m. on Friday after the ROTC presidential review with keynote speaker Elder Lance B. Wickman, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Wickman served in Vietnam twice, receiving Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.

The conference is just one of the ways BYU plans to pay tribute to the men and women who have served our country.

Friday will begin with services by the BYU Air Force and Army ROTC cadets. At 8:30 a.m. there will be a wreath-laying ceremony in the Memorial Lounge on the second floor of the Wilk as the cadets read the names of those on the memorial. They are BYU students or graduates who died in action.

People can follow the cadets outside into Brigham Square, where they will be joined by President Cecil O. Samuelson. President Samuelson will conduct a review of his troops, as they stand in formation around the square. Major General (Ret.) James Andrus will also speak at the services.

Andrus is a 1962 BYU Air Force ROTC graduate. He has served extensively in the Church as a mission president in Venezuela. He will receive the Patriot’s award from the ROTC.

“He is a distinguished graduate. He is a distinguished veteran in the community,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dewey Boberg, professor of military science. “He has service to God and to the country.”

Boberg also discussed the history of Veterans Day.

Veterans Day started as a day to celebrate the signing of the armistice at the end of World War I. The armistice was signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. It was declared a federal holiday to celebrate World War I veterans.

But at the end of the second world war, President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the purpose of the holiday to honor all veterans who have served the nation.

Veterans Day is different from Memorial Day, which remembers those who have died in service of the country, in that it honors veterans, both living and dead.

Throughout the week, ROTC cadets will be on campus teaching students about proper and respectful flag etiquette. The flag is raised at 7:30 a.m. every day. The national anthem plays and students should stop and put their hands over their hearts in respect. Every evening, at 5 p.m. the flag is taken down to the tune of the retreat song. Students are asked to stop, listen and watch.

Friday night ends with a special tribute by the football team with  “Salute to the Armed Forces,” a fireside with Coach Bronco Mendenhall and Chad Lewis at 7 p.m in the Smith Fieldhouse. The program is open to the public.

Chad Lewis, former BYU football star, will speak about his Wound Warriors experience. Lewis climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with four wounded war veterans, some of whom have prosthetic limbs.

“One of the wounded warriors couldn’t make it all they way, so he took his leg off and Chad carried it up to the top,” said Bob Wakefield, organizer of the event and a Vietnam war veteran.

Bob and his wife Cindy, service representatives for the university, wanted to have a way to thank veterans for the service they give to our country.

“Bob has a shirt that says ‘Freedom isn’t Free,'” Cindy Wakefield said. “I think that is so true because there are people that pay the price for our freedom and to honor them is a privilege.”

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