Purdue students will dedicate community service hours to fallen military members

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces. But perhaps a single day is not enough.

That’s why students associated with the Veterans Success Center, Purdue Student Veteran Organization and Purdue Student Union Board decided to honor fallen military members all year long. From now until Memorial Day, they’re asking Purdue staff and faculty to submit names of their loved ones who lost their lives while serving. After Memorial Day and throughout the rest of the year, the students will complete an hour of community service in memoriam of each name they receive.

Purdue staff and faculty may submit names of their family who died in military service; names should be sent to Jamie Richards. Please include the person’s date of birth, years and branch of service, as well as any other highlights about their life. Names will be accepted up until Thursday, May 25, 2017. On that date, the same organizations will hold a flag retirement ceremony in honor of Memorial Day beginning at 12:30 p.m. near the Unfinished Block P sculpture outside the Purdue Memorial Union. In the event of inclement weather the ceremony will be canceled.

Jimmy Montesano, president of the Purdue Student Union Board (PSUB), says the flag retirement ceremony and community service projects provide an opportunity for the group to collaborate with other campus departments. It’s also a way for PSUB to share the Purdue Memorial Union’s history with today’s faculty, staff, students and the Greater Lafayette community.

“We’ve kept a close connection with the ‘memorial’ part of the Union, which originally was built as a standing memorial for Purdue students who served in World War I and now honors all men and women who died serving their country,” Montesano says. “Our hope is that this effort will help provide more recognition to our fallen service members while engaging the broader Purdue community, which is something we always focus on.”

Jamie Richards, director of the Veterans Success Center, says the initiative reminds him of heroes from Ancient Greece, whose ultimate reward was the glory of their name living forever.

“This is an opportunity for those who lost their lives in service to have their name and legacy continue on, and students will be doing something positive in that person’s name to give added meaning to their life,” Richards says. “We also plan to take photos of students performing the community service, which we’ll send back to the individual who submitted the name.”

Dustin Weisner, a Purdue senior and president of the Purdue Student Veteran Organization, says he’ll be performing community service to remember his uncle, who served in the U.S. Army and perished in Vietnam. Although the community service will be performed for those who died while in uniform, Weisner says his grandfather—who was taken prisoner while serving in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, but fortunately survived—will be on his mind as well.

“He passed away when I was still young, but I remember watching the History Channel with him and talking a little about his experience,” says Weisner, who joined the Marine Corps immediately after high school to carry on his family’s military legacy. “He left me a copy of his memoirs—clippings from his time in service and pictures from his days in training and as a POW—to be opened up at Christmas when I turned 10.

“He lived his whole life in a way that ensured others could live in freedom, and years after his service I remember him being very active in the local community back home, trying to make it a nice town for everyone. I think he would smile upon the community service we’re doing and joke that he wished he would have thought of the idea first.”

Writer: Andrea Thomas, Communications Director for Student Success Programs, 765-496-3754, thomas78@purdue.edu

Last updated: March 21, 2017


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