Student Veterans of UAF host second annual memorial roll call

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
November 20, 2012

University of Alaska Fairbanks Army ROTC cadets retire the colors at the Veterans Day Memorial Roll Call after volunteers read 6,635 names of service members killed in action while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, at Constitution Park. The Student Veterans of UAF hosted the event complete with music, speeches from U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Joe Fields, chairman of the Alaska Veterans Advisory Council and a 21-gun salute from the Alaska Honor Guard. JR Ancheta/Sun Star

The Student Veterans of UAF hosted their second annual Veteran’s Day Memorial Roll Call on Monday Nov. 12, following Veteran’s Day.  Over 100 volunteers read names of soldiers and civilians that have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It’s our little way of showing respect to the veterans,” said Christopher Ennis, the president of the Student Veterans of UAF.  “These people have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and this is the one way we can show our respect to that sacrifice.”

Last year was the first year that the Student Veterans of UAF hosted the event.  The memorial roll call has grown significantly in participation since November 2011, according to Ennis.  Last year, there were around 30 volunteers participating.

This year that number more than tripled.  The volunteers included Senator Mark Begich and chairman of the Alaska Veterans Advisory Council Joe Fields who came out to speak and read names in respect to the veterans.

The event began at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony of ROTC presenting the colors and graduate music student Emerson Eads singing the national anthem.  Between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., volunteers gathered to read the more than 6,500 names of civilians and soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The event ended with a 21-gun salute from the Alaska Honor Guard and Eads singing “Amazing Grace.”

According to Phil Hokenson, the Veteran’s Services Officer on campus, coordinating an event like this is a lot of work, but the Student Veterans of UAF have had a lot of wonderful support.

The Student Veterans of UAF hope to continue the event annually, according to Hokenson.  “I think we’ll continue to do it, as long as we get this same kind of volunteer support,” Hokenson said.

“We’re trying to make it better every year,” Ennis said.

The idea to host a Veteran’s Memorial Roll Call came from a federal program that started last year.  Ennis said that the Student Veterans of UAF decided that this was going to be the one event that they put on during the year.

“Vets are here on campus to help each other and this is our way of reaching out to the rest of campus,” Ennis said.

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