As more than 7,000 American flags lining the University of Delaware Green fluttered in the breeze Friday morning, students, faculty and community members gathered to honor the sacrifice of the nation’s military veterans.
“This ceremony is about creating a link between those members of our society who are not serving in uniform and those who have answered the call,” said Michael Berry, adjunct general of the Delaware National Guard.
Berry told the crowd that every American has an “unwritten contract” with the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform and put themselves in harm’s way.
“This contract requires all of us to appreciate the risks that are inherent in the profession of arms and to never forget the sacrifice when one of our warriors loses their life while performing their duties,” Berry said.
Less than one half of 1 percent of Americans serve in the armed forces, and for those without a direct connection, it can be easy to forget about those serving the country in distant lands, he said.
“Certainly on the grounds of this university, those in harm's way seem almost surreal in their distance and separation,” Berry said. “Which leads me to reiterate the importance of what is taking place here this morning.”
Friday’s ceremony was organized by Blue Hen Veterans, which represents the more than 250 veterans who are currently attending UD as students. Earlier in the week, 130 volunteers helped place 7,028 flags – one to represent each U.S. service member who has died in combat since Sept. 11, 2001 – in front of Memorial Hall.
“I think it's important that we remember those that we have lost and allow students to remember that even today, people are still dying for them as they go through school,” said Blue Hen Veterans President Todd Glessner, who served two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army and is now serving in the Delaware Air National Guard.