Last Thursday, the Diversity Resource Center and UWT honored America’s troops in the sixth annual Memorial Day celebration hosted at the university.
“Veteran students, staff and faculty are an integral part of the university,” said Chancellor Debra Friedman, as she opened the event.
Friedman’s opening was followed by the presentation of the colors, which was conducted by the Intertribal Warrior Honor Society, a group of Native American veterans, all of whom have served in combat.
Gary Condra, the deputy director of Washington State Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the event’s first speaker, focused his talk, not on his own two decades of service, but on the many programs Veteran’s Affairs is working to provide for veterans in Washington state.
Through programs such as VetCore, a group of veterans who help fellow veterans navigate university life and finish school, or programs that provide reintegration for incarcerated and homeless veterans, Condra focuses on helping veterans return from multiple deployments and become successful in life.
“We do our best to connect them with the services that they’ve earned,” he said.
The event’s next speaker, C.J. Webb, was the 2013 Distinguished Veteran Alumni. After 22 years of service, Webb began attending UWT, and has graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.
“Military service is one of the highest callings you can aspire to,” said Webb.
She requested two favors from the audience as they celebrated the Memorial Day weekend. The first was to take a moment during the business of the weekend to remember those who had fallen. The second was to thank, not only the soldiers who have served in the Iraq war, but also those who served in controversial wars such as Vietnam.
To finish the festivities, Tacoma born country singer Jonathan Harris performed his original song “Thanks to You I’m Free.” Harris wrote this song as a thank you to those who have served, and through the “Thanks to You I’m Free” Project, he is working to get the song to every soldier in the military.