By: Morgan Watters
You might not have known that IU South Bend is sixth in the nation among small public universities for our student veteran services. For Veterans’ Day this year, Titan Vets hosted a military-focused event every day of the week, which culminated in the Veterans’ Day ceremony and luncheon on Nov. 11. The group also hoped to hold a RED (Remember Everyone Deployed) 5K Run/Walk, which was pushed to a later date.
The ceremony began with an opening statement about the history of Armistice Day (Veterans’ Day) from Scott Leeper, the President of Titan Vets. Then, veterans and their family members shared their own stories. Veteran Kent A. Laudeman, Ed.D. LTC USA/USAR Retired, spent some time speaking about his experiences in Vietnam, Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Joint Endeavor.
“I think as veterans look back, they don’t think about the little stories they have,” Laudeman said. “I encourage them to write about those stories. They may sound simple at the time–not worth writing about–but you owe it to your family to write about that story.”
Among the many stories Mr. Laudeman shared, there was a common theme of camaraderie. An inspiring story about the history of Taps, which is a song played at flag ceremonies, the end of the day and military funerals was very memorable. He spoke of the piece’s symbolism and how it conjures respect, camaraderie and peace.
Scott Leeper also shared his story.
“You find little gems, and there is a gem I remember. I don’t remember who told me this. They said that two of their grandfathers met in World War II ,and one had lost his left foot while the other lost his right. Every year the two of them would go together and buy a pair of shoes,” Leeper said. “Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones their stories.”
Stories can be at once good, bad, happy and sad, but they are all important to remember our veterans, who they were and what they sacrificed.
“All of our veterans deserve our transparency, accountability, professionalism and service for their devotion to our country and their sacrifice for the freedoms we all enjoy,” Laudeman added. “For all our veterans who are alive, and have ‘gone to sleep’, that is the least we can do!”