The bell of the Memorial Student Union tower tolled 12 times for MU veterans not alive to hear it ring.
When Monday’s wintry weather moved the university’s annual Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony indoors, veterans and members of the university community gathered at noon inside the historic building that stands for all they were there to celebrate.
The Campus Activities Programming Board sponsored the MU tradition. Ethan Cannon, the board’s chairman for veteran programming and secretary of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association, opened the ceremony after the playing of the national anthem by giving a brief history of the space. The student union was dedicated originally to the MU students who lost their lives in World War I and later included plaques to remember the student veterans who fought and died in World War II.
“We feel that there is no more appropriate place than Memorial Union to honor, remember and celebrate our veterans,” Cannon said.
Zachary Ignotz, veteran and president of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association, shared what Veterans Day meant to him. He said it’s a combination of thanking his grandfather for his service and remembering his own life experiences. Ignotz said he also remembers all of his friends.
“I think of friends that are still struggling to find their place in the world, as well as friends that are around the globe away from their families and the comforts that we all enjoy,” Ignotz said.
Ignotz said he thinks of these friends every day and knows that, while not everyone knows them in particular, their stories resonate.
“You know someone like them, and no matter what Veterans Day means to you, it meant enough to you to be here today despite this,” he said, gesturing to the weather.
Jeffery Ford, MU student and secretary of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association, served from 1988-92 during the Gulf War as a combat engineer for the 82nd airborne division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
He said for him, Veterans Day is rooted in a lesson that began with World War I.
“It was a time that free people from all over the world believed that there could be a peace worth fighting for,” he said.
Ford’s great-uncle was from Missouri and died on Armistice Day in 1919.
Ford served, and then his son later served in Afghanistan. He said his view of the meaning of Veterans Day may be different from others.
“This day is not about Christmas sales, it’s not about free meals for veterans,” Ford said. “It’s about what happened 100 years ago that began to frame a world of peace that we now live in.”
Keynote speaker Capt. David Dry, an MU alumnus, stood decorated in his several awards. He spoke about the history of the holiday, presidents’ quotes about veterans and where the student union fit in it all.
Dry also referenced the Declaration of Independence’s famous statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
But there is something else,” he continued. “Something that is not directly tangible, yet critical and vital to our nation’s very existence. An essence, if you will, of service and devotion to a greater cause.”
Dry said that veterans’ dedication and sacrifice are the reasons that the United States will remain free.
“They are the ones that miss those once-in-a-lifetime events,” he said. “All of life’s common events that many of us take for granted.”
The ceremony ended with five MU student veterans reading of the names of over 100 Missouri fallen, followed by the playing of taps.
Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.