By Desirae Contreras |Staff Writer|
In their honor, CSUSB acknowledged our veterans from May 18-25 in preparation of Memorial Day weekend. On May 25, the Veterans Success Center (VSC) celebrated their grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony behind the flag poles located in front of campus.
“The ceremony is very important because with the death of our former Coyote, Lt. Alejo Thompson, we have [numbers] of service members in harm’s way and we want them to know that the Coyote family is thinking about them and that we do hope for [their] speedy returns and that they’re always acknowledged here by the CSUSB family,” said
Veterans Success Center coordinator, Marci Daniels. The ceremony was open to the public and free parking was available in Lot C. The ceremony began at 10 a.m. with an opening Memorial Day commencement sponsored by the CSUSB Student Veterans Organization.
It was followed by a bagpipe performance by the Upland Highland Regimental Band, a presentation of the colors by CSUSB Army and Air Force ROTC color guard, the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem [by Denise Tillman,] according to the Highland Community News.
A dedication to our fallen soldier, Lt. Thompson was presented by Vice-President of Student Affairs Frank L. Ricon and a moment of reflection and prayer was followed by Chaplain Richard C. Hettish of the U.S. Navy.
In addition, a 21-Gun salute and Taps were presented by the VFW Post 6476 Colton, Calif. Honor Guard in memory of our fallen soldiers
Col. Pinkerton of Fort Irwin, Col. Peterson of 29 Palms and Col. Le Blanc of the March Air Force Reserve Base were in attendance to speak to students and represent their separate military branches.
Chaplain Hettish shared with the crowd the importance of the Veterans Success Center as a place where service men returning home and on campus can study, find peace, learn and share about their experiences in a welcoming and loving environment.
Memorial Day is a symbolic remembrance of those who are free in America and the idea that we may have peace and serenity in a world where we have those service men allowing us to live free. Meanwhile, they risk their lives everyday for our safety and the safety of those they do not know.
During the ceremony, the U.S. Air Force 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, U.S. Army 426th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 311, U.S. Marine Corps 4th Tank Battalion and California National Guard 1-185th Armor Battalion reserve units were honored for their dedication and selfless service to the Inland Empire.
In addition, the Service Veterans Office presented a banner signed by students on campus in appreciation to the local National Regard Reserve Units.
“It’s a joy and great sight to see CSUSB showcasing Armed Forces Awareness Week so prominently because it makes me proud of my brother who has been serving in the army for seven years,” said student Jacob Montanez. “I can’t wait for him to get back home and my heart goes out to him for standing strong with courage to go out and fight for our country. I know that I can sleep peacefully at night knowing he [is] fighting to make things right so we all may sleep safe in our beds and homes.”
The ceremony concluded with a ribbon-cutting and reception in the new VSC, located in the lower level of the Coyote Bookstore. Prior to the grand opening of the VSC, the “Armed Forces Awareness Week” was taking place.
On Friday May 18 and 19, trees were decorated with yellow ribbons as a symbolic representation of the Tie A Yellow Ribbon Campaign.
Each of the 18 trees represented 1,000 of our 18,370 Californian soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who are currently deployed. Our 19th tree represented the 370 remaining service members.
On Monday May 21, Graves of the Fallen were displayed on campus as a reminder of the soldiers whose lives have been lost. Sandbags, a rifle, a helmet and dog tags displayed as a soldier’s cross is represented to honor every fallen solider and to acknowledge their hard work.
On Tuesday May 22, veteran students uniforms were up on display in the Santos Manuel Student Union and Wednesday, May 23 the Fallen Soldiers Table was showcased in the food court, leading up to the grand opening itself.
“There is a lot of symbolism to the table, from the chair to the place setting, the salt, the lemon, the red rose and the yellow ribbon. Each signifies something about a prisoner of war who was killed in action,” said co-adviser of the Student Veterans Organization, Catherine Schinofen. “We want to remember these service men and acknowledge them consistently.”
For information on VSC, contact Marci Daniels at (915) 346-8861.