Southern Utah University’s Veteran Resource and Support Center honored American veterans through a Veterans Day Observance Program on Monday.
The event, held in the Hunter Conference Center, focused on recognizing the service of the nation’s veterans, but it was not a typical celebration.
There is a certain somberness that comes with honoring those who have served, because many of the people celebrated never return home to see it.
Jacqueline Russell, an army veteran, told the story of her tour in Iraq from Oct. 2006 to Dec. 2007. Russell was deployed during the most casualty-heavy period of the American occupation of Iraq.
She created reports of casualties and injuries to send to the families of the deployed. Leaders from squadrons would report what happened on their missions to her, so every injury and fatality that happened in her department came across her desk.
The experience offered Russell a new perspective on freedom. The price to pay was heavy, and she saw the price first hand.
“I saw the many, deep wounds of service,” Russell said. “[The veterans] did it because they love and believe in this nation.”
Russell and her husband traded tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and her family was never together for longer than six months during a six year span. Many of the people she knew before service came home different when they got back. Veterans struggle to adjust, but Russell views the price of freedom as worth it.
Other speakers followed Russell’s tone. SUU Aviation student Garret Miller recounted practical jokes he played during boot camp, but paused when telling his deployment story.
Miller was deployed one week after his daughter was born, but he felt his commitment was too great to stay. He served and returned home to his family. Garret’s wife Haley talked about how difficult coping with his absence was.
The Veteran Resource and Support Center then played a slideshow honoring local veterans accompanied by Cedar High School’s Band playing the service hymns for each branch.
Finally there was a presentation of pins by the VRSC. Local veterans received pins in gratitude of their service.
Veteran’s Day offers a time for reflection on the unseen pillars that hold the country up. The Observance Program was a tribute to those lost, and those still holding strong.
Story and Photo by: Connor Sanders