By Jen Boyer
Amidst a tumultuous election season, Rider’s community came together to honor the country’s war veterans one flag at a time, adorning the campus mall with red, white and blue in the shape of the university “R.”
Dean Ira Mayo has been working with veterans and said the Veteran’s Day events last week had a positive turnout.
“We had a great response as approximately 12,000 flags were planted in honor of veterans in the shape of the Rider ‘R’,” said Mayo.
On Nov. 9 and 10, students, faculty and staff came out to plant flags on the campus mall in memory or honor of a family member or friend who served in the armed forces. In addition, they were able to speak with veterans who were manning the table and planting flags.
Rider Veteran Reuss Idler commended the Veteran’s Day events.
“I really liked flag planting; it was surprisingly fun, and a lot of people came out and planted some,” he said. “The ceremony on the 11th went great. The event was a combination of things. It was paying respect, remembering, forgiving, dreaming, hoping, praying and even a little crying.”
Idler was in the Marines and joined to do something good for himself, his family and country. He learned how to endure hardship, thrive and become a better person. The ceremony on Veteran’s Day helped pay deep respect to service members who have shown bravery and courage to help serve and protect the country, he said.
“Because of them, we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we have,” Mayo said. “‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was performed by Jeff Braaten, an aspiring opera singer and a retired U.S. Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq.”
A Rider graduate of the class of ’75, Brian Delate, who acted in “Shawshank Redemption” and starred in “The Truman Show,” spoke at the ceremony regarding serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He wrote a play about his experience called “Memorial Day.” It examines the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder for returning soldiers.
“I can only state my reaction. It was a very personal experience depending on one’s background,” Idler said. “I’m sure veterans like myself were more deeply affected. I became anxious, sad, happy and confused by the fact that I am still alive.”
The play provided the audience with an intense experience as Delate played multiple characters, and transported them back in time to the ’70s. It gave the audience mixed emotions as it made a clear point that the ravages of war and the fear of death have a remarkable effect on those who fought for our country.
Veteran’s Day recognizes troops who sacrificed themselves to protect the United States. Yet again, the entire campus community came together on Veteran’s Day to stand by veterans who represent strength for the country.