Niagara University is joining more than 100 colleges and universities across the U.S. to honor the 6,200-plus American servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the Catholic and Vincentian university will participate in Remembrance Day National Roll Call, a national event that calls for a synchronized reading of all the names of the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties. Students, faculty, staff, community leaders and members of the Niagara Falls Air Base's 914th Airlift Wing will read the names.
"When you consider the fact that Veterans Day falls on a once-in-a-century date this year - 11/11/11 - this is the ideal time to publicly acknowledge those brave men and women who have fought fearlessly for our freedom," said Robert Healy, Niagara University's veterans services coordinator.
Each participating campus will organize its own reading of names and will observe a simultaneous nationwide moment of silence at 8 a.m. More than 117 schools in 48 states, plus the District of Columbia, have agreed to participate in the event.
Niagara University will begin reading names in chronological order at 8:30 a.m. at the Gallagher Center's main entrance. It is expected that the recitation of names will continue until approximately 5 p.m. At 1:45 p.m., there will be a pause for reflection, the singing of "Amazing Grace" and, at 2 p.m., the campus will join all participating schools with a minute of silence before resuming the recitation of names. The event will conclude with the playing of taps.
In between, a special Veterans Day Mass will take place at 12:15 p.m. in the Alumni Chapel.
The Remembrance Day National Roll Call is sponsored nationally by the Veterans Knowledge Community of NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. NASPA is a 12,000-member association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs professionals. The Veterans Knowledge Community mission is to advocate for best practices to help student veterans successfully transition to college. As the National Roll Call sponsor, the goal of VKC is to have at least one institution in each of the 50 states participate in the event.
Lt. Col. (Ret) Brett Morris, the National Roll Call coordinator, said, "We wanted to rally campus communities across the nation to send a powerful message to the troops currently serving that their peers have not forgotten their sacrifices, or those of the fallen."
"The reading of individual names is very poignant because it emphasizes the significance of each and every life lost," said Morris, a retired Army officer and the associate director for veterans affairs at Eastern Kentucky University. "Like the names inscribed at the new 9/11 memorial in New York, each of the fallen deserves to be remembered for their sacrifice. There is no effort to raise money or promote individual programs. The event is simply to honor those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf."
In September, Niagara University was designated as a "Military Friendly School" for a second straight year by G.I. Jobs magazine. The designation signifies that Niagara University is among the top 20 percent of all colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide that are doing the most to embrace America's veterans as students.
For information about the event at Niagara University or to sign up to read names, contact Healy at 716-286-8341.
To learn more about the National Roll Call effort, contact Morris at [email protected] or visit http://va.eku.edu/sites/va.eku.edu/files/National_Roll_Call_Participants.pdf to see a list of participating schools.