This Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011, UMUC, along with 180 universities across the country, participated in a simultaneous reading of more than 6,000 names of our nation’s fallen soldiers in the Remembrance Day National Roll Call event.
“Every single name being read are those who were the defenders of every single freedom we get to enjoy,” said Kelly Wilmeth, associate vice president of Stateside Military Support. She served on a board of nine committee members who began planning the Largo event last April by working with the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community and Student Veterans of America.
“They’ve been honoring the (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom) fallen soldiers for 10 years by having institutions in all 50 states step up to the plate—and we’re honored to be one of the institutions chosen,” Wilmeth said.
The opening ceremony took place at 9 a.m., with an appearance by the Terrapin Battalion and the National Anthem sung by Jonathan Walker, an advisor in Enrollment Management. The simultaneous reading took place from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with a synchronized moment of silence at 2 p.m. (eastern time).
For the 25 volunteer readers chosen, the auditions were tough, says army veteran Gerry St. Michel, who serves on the Adelphi Staff Advisory Council (ASAC) and is the chair of GSAC (Global Staff Advisory Council).
“We were given difficult-sounding names intentionally, and had to read 225 names in 15 minutes at four seconds per name,” he said. “You really have to practice. I also shared Web sites with other readers so we could get a better understanding of who each person was.”
As the event’s attendees listened intently for the name of a loved one or friend, they experienced a range of emotions—like undergraduate business administration student Matutu Makere, who came to pay tribute to the friends who were just alongside him three years ago.
“We all served in the same division,” says the young air force veteran. “It’s deeply personal to me because they were two of my closest friends. When I think about it, it feels just like yesterday…it’s hard to talk about.”
While the readings took place throughout the day, other UMUC staff and volunteers from organizations like the Prince George’s County Vet Center hosted information tables for attendees. Noelle Atwell, director of the Veterans Certification Office, said her department felt the need to reach out to veterans at the event, and that many volunteers like herself had a personal connection to the Roll Call.
“I had two sons who were in the Marines,” said Atwell. “I have pictures on my door of one of my son’s two buddies who were killed on their next deployment. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the event.”
In addition to those who attended in person, many logged into WebTycho to discuss the event while others posted comments on the Roll Call Web site to pay tribute to the fallen. To watch video of the event, visit the Remembrance Roll Call Website.