A day of remembrance

by Katherine Buecheler

As America pauses to honor the brave veterans who sacrificed themselves to serve the country, the spirit of Memorial Day sparks Bruins to unite in an endeavor to honor those who did so selflessly. A look at last week’s events, plus upcoming events to RSVP to!

Photo courtesy of UCLA Veteran Center

Photo courtesy of UCLA Veteran Center

Memorial Day dates back to the aftermath of the American Civil War as a commemoration for the brave souls who put their lives on the line for the country. In the years following World War I, the scope broadened to honor veterans who had died in all American wars, and in 1971 it was officially declared a federal holiday. On this day, various remembrance ceremonies occur throughout the country — wreath-laying at military cemeteries, moments of silence, parades and raising the flag to half-staff.

UCLA has a significant veteran population of students, faculty and staff. This community often plays a vital role in organizing and participating in Memorial Day events and activities on campus. Memorial Day at UCLA serves as an opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge of its historical significance and honor the veterans in the Bruin community and beyond.

Several events took place on campus last week: honorary walks, workouts and memorial ceremonies. The UCLA Army ROTC, Air Force ROTC and Naval ROTC held events on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. The Army ROTC held their Fitness Test Challenge in Wilson Plaza, and the Naval ROTC held their own workout session. The Air Force ROTC orchestrated a campus walk to commemorate the holiday.

One of the most significant honorary events at UCLA was the Memorial Day Service in Wilson Plaza last Thursday, May 25. The event included a performance of the national anthem, Bruin veterans’ speeches and the color guard’s presentation of the colors. On Friday, May 26, a 1-mile campus walk was hosted by the Veterans Resource Center.

If you are still looking for a way to honor Memorial Day close to campus, there will be a flag pickup event on Tuesday, May 30, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. The volunteering event, which has been held for the past seven years, is hosted by the cemetery, the UCLA Veteran Resource Center and the UCLA ROTC programs. It is open to all, welcoming both the Bruin and broader Los Angeles communities. The event aims to pick up the 90,000-plus flags placed throughout the gravesite. Be sure to RSVP at this link to attend the event!

Beyond Memorial Day, UCLA provides vital resources to veterans and military-affiliated individuals. Located in Kerckhoff Hall Room 132, the Veteran Resource Center is focused on increasing awareness of educational benefits, career development, community building and mentorship. Be sure to stop in to get more information on resources and upcoming events.

Memorial Day at UCLA echoes remembrance and gratitude on campus. The community is committed to honoring the heroes through initiatives, ceremonies and events. Year after year, student organizations — namely the Veteran Resource Center — foster an environment that unites our community to create a meaningful and poignant Memorial Day experience.

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