MU celebrates veterans, remembers its history with annual Wreath Laying Ceremony

Ceremonial events such as the posting of the colors, the laying of a wreath and the reading of fallen veterans’ names commemorated and those who have served in the military.
Members of MU ROTC hold flags at the Wreath Laying Ceremony that honors veterans on Nov. 9, 2018 at Memorial Student Union. Courtesy of Facebook via Mizzou Life

As the clock struck noon, seven uniformed military men and women, five bearing flags and two bearing rifles, approached Memorial Student Union for the posting of the colors. This was the beginning of the Wreath Laying Ceremony, an annual event and staple of MU’s Veterans Week.

The Wreath Laying Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 9 and Veterans Week celebrate Veterans Day, which falls on Sunday, Nov. 11 this year. The week annually offers a range of events, such as the Joint ROTC Annual Veterans Day Parade, the Student-Veteran Panel Discussion and Lunch, the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors Concert and the Military Appreciation Football Game.

The events of the week center around recognizing those who have served or are serving in the U.S. military.

The Wreath Laying Ceremony was sponsored by Missouri Student Unions and was open to the general public.

Once the presenting of the colors ended under the arch of Memorial Student Union, the national anthem was played. Then, a series of speakers gave remarks, including Joey Schellhase, the traditions chair of the Student Union Programing Board; Chancellor Alexander Cartwright; Kyle Smith, the president of the Mizzou Student Veterans Association; and James Musgraves, the outgoing executive officer of the Navy ROTC.

Afterward, the names of fallen veterans were read, a moment of silence passed, and “Taps” was played.

As the event wrapped up, attendees took a picture to support veterans under the Memorial Student Union arch, then proceeded to a reception in the Bengal Lair.

Musgraves, who was deemed the event’s guest speaker, graduated from MU in 1993 in the ROTC program, earned his Wings of Gold while at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, was a part of several squadrons and returned to MU to serve in the MU Navy ROTC, where he helps train the next generation of leaders for the Navy and Marine Corps.

In his speech, he emphasized the work and sacrifices required to preserve freedom, using quotes from figures such as Ronald Reagan, George Orwell and Dwight D. Eisenhower to support this point.

“I think it’s great that we recognize the sacrifices of those men and women that came before us, like I quoted in my speech, like what Ronald Reagan said, whether they did or did not have to make the ultimate sacrifice,” Musgraves said. “The fact that the University of Missouri does is fantastic.”

Memorial Student Union was a focal point of the various remarks made in the ceremony. The ceremony honored the 117 MU veterans who lost their lives in World War I and whose names are engraved inside the Memorial Student Union arch.

“I thought it was unique to hear, even though we heard it three separate times including from myself, the history behind the Memorial Union,” Musgraves said. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t really know too much about Memorial Union until I started writing my speech for today. It’s amazing... You’d never know that it was built so many years ago.”

Musgraves wants the event’s audience to be mindful of servicemen and servicewomen throughout their daily lives rather than just on specific holidays.

“I just want [the attendees] to remember why we have holidays,” Musgraves said. “I want them to know why this memorial was built. It’s not about the memorial, it’s about the people that it represents. I want them to think about veterans every day, not just one day a year or two days a year if you throw in Memorial Day. Just a thought, that’s all it takes.”

Cartwright also emphasized the importance of acknowledging the work of veterans and those currently in the military.

“This event is about recognizing the veterans,” Cartwright said. “It’s recognizing what the Memorial Union means for the community and also the sacrifice that so many men and women made for this country. For us as community, it’s also recognizing how much we value and appreciate the continued efforts of the people in the military and our veterans that are here.”

Acknowledging the work of those in the military is consistent with MU’s principles, he said.

“It’s something that aligns with the core values of the university,” Cartwright said. “Anytime we can honor all the work and dedication of those individuals, it’s great to be able to do that.”

Rose Schauffler, a junior biological engineering major, attended the event. As someone with personal ties to those in the military, Schauffler appreciated the event and its different features.

“I think they did a very nice job,” Schauffler said. “It was very formal and respectful. I’ve had family members and friends who have been involved in the Army, and family members who are veterans. Hearing the names listed off, it seems kind of long, but it makes you reflect on why we’re here and the freedom we have.”

Schauffler thought the event effectively prompted its attendees to be grateful for the freedom and safety they receive due to those who serve in the military.

“I think mostly, the event is a reminder of why we should be grateful to be in America, why we should be grateful to be part of this university, that our lives are really not that hard,” Schauffler said. “We have it pretty nice, and a lot of times we take that for granted, and I think this is a good reminder of things to be thankful for.”

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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