Names echoed through the Plaza Friday, welcoming anyone to stop â€“â€“ if only for a moment â€“â€“ to recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The simple name reading was part of the National Roll Call in honor of Veteran’s Day, in collaboration with 182 schools across the nation. The national remembrance included a moment of silence at noon and the reading of 6,315 names of service members who have died in the past 10 years during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The solemn message hit close to home for Jimmy Tucker, a Vietnam veteran known around Fort Collins as â€œWhite Owl.â€ While others came and went throughout the day, he remained at the ceremony for several hours paying his respects to those who have served, including three of his children, who he said were recently killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
â€œWe must not forget those who died,â€ he said, with tears in his eyes.
He added that earlier this year, additional family members were lost in battle.
â€œThey did not die in vain,â€ he stressed. â€œThey deserve thanks. They deserve more.â€
People from around the CSU campus and Fort Collins community took turns reading the thousands of names throughout the day, including Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
â€œThis day has been a reminder of the sacrifices of so many,â€ he said after reading several dozen names.
â€œGrowing up it was our parents and our grandparents, but at Colorado State University, we’re reminded that it’s our friends (and) our colleagues,â€ the CSU alumnus said.
The event lasted throughout the day, and passersby occasionally stopped to read the informational signs or remember a fallen family member or friend.
Kyle Dick, a junior fish and wildlife biology major, was one of those walking who stopped to remember his 19-year-old friend who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq two months into his deployment.
â€œFreedom isn’t free, and a lot of people take it for granted,â€ Dick said.
He viewed the ceremony as a â€œsymbol of patriotism,â€ and added that men and women in armed services play a much larger role in daily life than many recognize.
â€œWe don’t have freedom if not for these people,â€ he said.
Additional name readers came from the university’s ROTC program, which prepares students for service by teaching them leadership and strategic planning.
Mary Gittings, a sociology and criminology major and member of the Air Force ROTC, was one reader in attendance.
She stressed the importance of recognizing the extreme sacrifices servicemen and women make, including the extended tours and absence of family for prolonged periods. She said events like this really make people appreciate just how many have given their lives in the line of duty.
â€œJust remember,â€ she said. â€œEven just for 30 seconds, to think about how we got to where we are with our freedoms that not everyone has.â€
Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.