Niagara University joined more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States to honor the 6,200-plus American servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011, the Catholic and Vincentian university participated in Remembrance Day National Roll Call, a national event that called for a synchronized reading of all the names of the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties. The names were read by students, faculty, staff, community leaders and members of the Niagara Falls Air Base’s 914th Airlift Wing.
“When you consider the fact that Veterans Day falls on a once-in-a-century date this year – 11/11/11 – this is the ideal time to publicly acknowledge those brave men and women who have fought fearlessly for our freedom,” said Robert Healy, Niagara University’s veterans services coordinator.
Each participating campus organized its own reading of names and observed a simultaneous nationwide moment of silence at 8 a.m. More than 117 schools in 48 states, plus the District of Columbia, participated in the event.
Niagara University began reading names in chronological order at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Multipurpose Room on the Gallagher Center’s lower level. The recitation of names continued until approximately 4:30 p.m. At 1:45 p.m., there was a pause for reflection, the singing of “Amazing Grace” and, at 2 p.m., the campus joined all participating schools with a minute of silence before resuming the recitation of names. The event concluded with the playing of taps.
In between, a special Veterans Day Mass took place at 12:15 p.m. in the Alumni Chapel.
The Remembrance Day National Roll Call was sponsored nationally by the Veterans Knowledge Community of NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. NASPA is a 12,000-member association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs professionals. The Veterans Knowledge Community (VKC) mission is to advocate for best practices to help student veterans successfully transition to college. As the National Roll Call sponsor, the goal of VKC was to have at least one institution in each of the 50 states participate in the event.
Lt. Col. (Ret) Brett Morris, the National Roll Call coordinator, said, “We wanted to rally campus communities across the nation to send a powerful message to the troops currently serving that their peers have not forgotten their sacrifices, or those of the fallen.”
“The reading of individual names is very poignant because it emphasizes the significance of each and every life lost,” said Morris, a retired Army officer and the associate director for veterans affairs at Eastern Kentucky University. “Like the names inscribed at the new 9/11 Memorial in New York, each of the fallen deserves to be remembered for their sacrifice. There is no effort to raise money or promote individual programs. The event is simply to honor those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”
In September, Niagara University was designated as a “Military Friendly School” for a second straight year by G.I. Jobs magazine. The designation signifies that Niagara University is among the top 20 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.