UI honors ‘unsung heroes’ with Veterans Day ceremony

The UI held a Veterans Day Reveille and Opening Ceremony on the Pentacrest to honor all the veterans with UI connections.


Justin Torner

The U.S. and Iowa flags were raised on the Old Capitol to the sound of a bugle, and the Air Force ROTC rendered honors to the flags to recognize those who have served the country.

The University of Iowa held a Veterans Day Reveille and Opening Ceremony on the Pentacrest the morning of Nov. 10 to honor the veterans who have connections to the university.

After the national anthem played, Director of Military Veteran Student Services Matthew Miller spoke. He said 5,575 flags were put on the Pentacrest to honor all of the service members who have a connection to the university.

“It’s a great tribute to our veterans here on campus and around the world,” Miller said.

UI senior Brandon Cusey, who served in the Marine Corps for four years and is president of the UI Veterans Association, said the university has done a good job in honoring those who have served with similar events in the past.

“The university has a lot of students who are veterans — we have just around 2,000 veterans and military affiliated here on campus — and I think they need to be recognized,” Cusey said.

Dave Lewis, a former UI ROTC commander, told the story of Robbie, a veteran he knew who attended the UI for one year before enlisting in the Army to go into the Special Forces.

After a couple of years, Lewis said, he heard that Robbie had been killed in Afghanistan after charging at the enemy while injured, allowing the other men on his patrol team to fall back safely. For his actions, Robbie was awarded the Medal of Honor.

“He made the choice to live the life he loved, a life of service to you and to me,” Lewis said. “One of these flags has Robbie’s name on it, right back here on campus, where his Army career started.”

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Lewis said he has heard from fellow veterans about their time in the military, and many have said if they could go back in time, they would still choose to serve their country.

“Every service member I’ve had a conversation with has always had at least one complaint about how they were treated in the military,” he said. “… At the same time, I’ve never met a veteran who wouldn’t do it again.”

Zachary Buettner, a UI professor of military science for the Army ROTC program, graduated from the program in 1997 before going on active duty. He said he doesn’t have any formal traditions for Veterans Day, but he does look back on his service and the service of others.

“I just tend to reflect on the veterans I’ve known and in my family,” he said.

Events such as this one are important in remembering all veterans, even the ones whom few people know about, Buettner said. He noted Sandy Boyd, a former UI president and member of the Navy, and Hayden Fry, who served in the Marines.

“Veterans have made an incredible contribution over the years to the university, and many of them have been unsung heroes who people never even realized were veterans,” Buettner said.

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