COLUMBIA — Drafted into the Army in 1970, Rich Grant turned what he thought would be a year-long stint into a 34-year career.
Not many draftees did that, he stressed, but he didn't have many options when he left MU in 1969.
"What else are you going to do with an art degree?" he said, laughing.
The military, his wife, Judy, added, "must have thought 'art' was short for 'artillery.'"
Around noon Monday, the couple walked down Hitt Street toward downtown, drinking Starbucks and holding hands. Behind them, the names of Missouri's dead from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan boomed out from beneath Memorial Tower. In the final part of MU's Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony, a group of men and women took turns announcing the names through a microphone.
About a half hour before, Grant, who founded the Mizzou Military Veterans Alumni Association in 2010, stood with his wife as a wreath recognizing the soldiers' sacrifice was laid beneath the tower. The dozen or so veterans in the sparse crowd saluted as a bugler played taps.
"The number of the fallen grows every year," Grant said quietly. Grant's two sons served in the military, as did his father. His great-uncle died exactly 95 years ago on Armistice Day in World War I. That holiday later became Veterans Day.
The ceremony was brief, before John Quade, president of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, introduced guest speaker Brig. Gen. Randy Alewel of the Missouri National Guard.
"The freedom they fought for was not their own," Alewel said in his speech. "It was for people they would never know, in countries they'd never heard of."
When Alewel stepped down from the podium and the reading of the names began, the crowd of about four dozen started to disperse.
Lt. Col. David Obermiller, commander of the Air Force ROTC detachment at MU, had arrived at the event in a golf cart with a half dozen military personnel from the Marine Corps, the Army and the Navy. He said he admired the ceremony for its simplicity.
"That's the best way to do it," Obermiller said. "You don't want it to be flashy or over the top."
Cmdr. Mike Maurizi, an MU medical school graduate, lowered his voice as Quade began reading the names.
"It's important to do this," Maurizi said, his voice giving away his Chicago origin. "People forget about Iraq and Afghanistan."
Rich and Judy Grant returned from their walk after about half the names had been read. The crowd had swelled with MU students leaving their classes.
Quade paused for a moment before reading the name of a Missouri serviceman killed in October.
When Quade reached the end of the list and 10 years' worth of names had been read, he thanked the crowd and stepped back from the podium.
Supervising editor is Richard Webner.