The sound of bagpipes filled the Main Green as a solemn procession made its way to the Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle for yesterday afternoon's Veterans Day ceremony. The hour-long event featured speeches from student and alumni veterans, as well as Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron.
"Every year we do something different," said Chris Baker '09, one of the event's organizers. Despite being short-handed in terms of managing staff, the event was a success, several attendees said. Kristen Soul '99, who has attended every Veterans Day ceremony for the past four years, especially appreciated this year's focus on "taking care of the veterans," she said.
This year's ceremony honored Charlie Kenney '10, a former captain of the lacrosse team who died two weeks prior to being deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Seventh Marine Regiment.
"Love. That is the ultimate word that fills my heart when I think of Charlie, for his family, his team and his country," said Lars Tiffany '90, Kenney's former coach. At the end of the ceremony, Kenney's parents accepted a plaque in his honor.
The Student Veterans Society has erected an Honor Wall on Simmons Quad, which includes details about the University's military service history, as well as pictures of and information about Brown veterans.
"This coming together came from students at Brown," Reed said, referring to the four founding members of the Veterans Society who started the Veterans Day program four years ago. Many of the speakers noted that Brown has worked to embrace military culture.
"Brown is now a military-friendly campus," said Lieutenant Commander James Gardner '65.
"Seeing a veteran standing in the rain outside Miller Hall helped me transition into civilian life" after military service, said David Salsone '12.5, president of the Student Veterans Society.
This year's ceremony yielded a lower turnout than last year's event, Baker said.
"Generally, everyone's time is limited, and I understand that (the Veterans Day event) may not be what people want to do, but it's important to recognize the people who serve the country," Salsone said.
The decreasing number of people currently enlisted in the army and the dwindling number of surviving World War II veterans have led to a decrease in general awareness of veterans' issues, he said. Essentially, civilians no longer feel the direct effects of war, he said.
But Baker noted the campus ceremony has developed significantly since its initial 10-person gathering four years ago. Brown student veterans will participate in an open community dinner Thursday, and Saturday's football game will include a ceremony in honor of current and former service members, according to a Veterans Day flyer.
"We can't send men and women off to war, then forget about them," Reed said. "Because of these men and women, we have the freedom to live with a sense of hope."