Silence echoed louder than the bells that struck continually as Dixie State University students, faculty members and veterans folded their arms, bowed their heads, and gave tribute to past and present armed forces members.
The fourth annual Veterans Day observation took place Monday at the flagpole in front of the Edward H. and Idonna E. Snow Science Center. Attendees then moved to the Gardner Center lobby where they discussed how to have as large of an impact as possible on the holiday.
At the forum, Will Craver, DSU human resources assistant director, said Veterans Day provides an opportunity for veterans to unite and see each other.
“I enjoy seeing the veterans come out,” he said. “For me, they’re family members because we all went through things together.”
ROTC 1st Sgt. Jeremy Later said he understands why civilians wish to give thanks and said St. George residents do a good job. He said Veterans Day events promote unity within the community, but he feels strange walking in parades where people treat him differently than those who also risk their lives at work—like police officers and firefighters.
“[Events] are more for people supporting [veterans] than for me,” he said. “In some cases, people want to give thanks, and I get it…so I kind of tolerate it.”
Despite the positive intentions those who wish to give thanks to inactive services members on Veterans Day hold, Dave Gaspardo, a junior general education major from St. George and veteran, said people should put helping active soldiers as their first priority.
Gaspardo, who traces his ancestry back to relatives fighting on both sides during the Civil War, said his view on Veterans Day has changed since enrolling in the armed forces and then transitioning back to civilian life after.
“Before I was enlisted, Veterans Day was a big holiday to honor my family members, and since I’ve been enlisted, I finally understand their attitudes toward Veterans Day,” he said. “Yes, we like the day for honoring the men and women who are in service, but my family has always taken the position that even though we are veterans…our time has passed.”
By honoring those on active duty, community members can make the largest influence.
Gaspardo said assisting families currently impacted by conflicts becomes particularly important because of what Veterans Day precedes: the holiday season. He said he’s taken steps in the past to help and suggests citizens help year round, rather than just on Veterans Day.
“We would take (time), contact family members, and ask them if there’s anything we could do for them,” he said. “We [did] whatever we could to help them out—even if it meant [household chores]; that’s how we honored our veterans on Veterans Day.”
Along with helping these families, Gaspardo said citizens can send care packages to soldiers and support companies that help those in the armed forces like Starbucks, which sends coffee overseas for each cup it sells.
“When [soldiers received packages] from home…their faces lit up,” he said.