Editor’s Column – The Other V-Day

I have been a Maroon-News editor and a voracious reader of our school newspaper for most of my three-year tenure as a Colgate student. Having read and edited hundreds of articles, I can tell you that no piece was as great or poignant as junior Bill Stoklosa’s Commentary article last November explaining why we need to celebrate Veterans Day on campus. His words ring most true now, because Colgate, which does little to recognize soldiers’ efforts, is in the midst of spending a whopping 13 days raising environmental awareness and four days celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. 13 days? I realize that environmentalism is an important issue, but spending 13 days thoroughly discussing and publicizing it is overkill. As for Darwin, he would probably be the luckiest guy in the world if he were still alive, as he has four birthdays this year rather than just the standard one.

The Colgate Athletic Department has “Wounded Warrior” day during a home football game every year, where it recognizes a soldier at halftime and offers free tickets to Central New York veterans. However, if you weren’t at the Wounded Warrior game against Dartmouth last September, chances are you would have no idea that soldiers were being honored. If Colgate does anything else to support military personnel, I haven’t heard about it, or at the very least, haven’t gotten a barrage of e-mails concerning the matter.

So let me give you the breakdown again on what is celebrated up the hill:

13 days: Environmental awareness.

4 days: Darwin’s birthday.

0 days: Recognizing our soldiers and veterans.

That’s not right. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing.

With the United States in the midst of two wars in the Middle East and veterans struggling to make ends meet across the country, I don’t understand why nothing is done at Colgate on the upper campus to recognize the military efforts of the men and women who fought and died for our freedoms in present and past wars.

That’s why I am proposing a week in mid-November dedicated to the soldiers at Colgate. The rest of campus, whether it be an initiative from the Colgate Administration or from an on-campus student group, needs to follow the Athletic Department’s honorable drive for our military personnel and give the veterans their due. I have five suggestions that may be possible for the future.

Start a Donation Drive for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) or the Wounded Warrior Project: Members from my fire department back home drove down to WRAMC last June and gave wounded soldiers some new T-Shirts and offered the soldiers thanks. Building off that idea, I think it would be great if we could start a drive at Colgate to help out wounded soldiers, whether it be a monetary or clothing drive. Much like the Class of 2012 Eco-Olympics, it could be done as a competition between dorms or student groups to see who can donate the most clothes, letters and cards of thanks or money to a military organization.

Veterans Day Religious Services: Chaminade High School, an all-male Catholic school in Mineola, New York, has a Gold Star Mass each year to recognize alumni who died during military efforts. It was one of the bigger events of the school year, and soldiers used to come back to Chaminade just for the mass. Although I’m not saying that Colgate should have its own Gold Star mass, religious organizations across campus could hold small services on Veterans Day to pray for our troops.

Outdoor Plaque Commemorating Colgate Alumni Who Died During Military Efforts: From what I have found, 186 Colgate men died during the World Wars and the Vietnam War. There are plaques commemorating these soldiers in the Chapel, but how many of you knew that they were even there? There’s plenty of green around Colgate campus, so there’s room for outdoor plaques giving thanks to these men.

Half-Price Tickets to Colgate Sporting Events for Soldiers and Veterans: It would be a nice gesture if general admission tickets were offered at half price to all soldiers and veterans that happen to be in the area and want to watch Colgate play.

Veterans Day Lecture at the Chapel: Bringing in alums that served our country to speak at Colgate would be an interesting lecture, to say the least. I’d love to hear their stories about their experiences both during and after war.

More than 3,800 Colgate alumni served during World War II; 140 of them died. 26 other Colgate men died during World War I, and another 20 lost their lives during the Vietnam War. If we don’t recognize their service to us in a campus-wide effort, they are doomed to remain as mere statistics on a piece of paper at Colgate, with their actions unnoticed. It’s time for Colgate to give soldiers the honors and appreciation they deserve next November.