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Monday, November 02, 2009

NIU Veterans Club Kicks Off Its Veterans Day Events as National Military Family Month Begins

NIUVetsDay2008-062November ushers in National Military Family Month (read the president's proclamation), with Veterans Day observations around the country beginning in earnest this week and extending into next.

As I complete my final semester at Northern Illinois University, I'm looking forward to facilitating, attending and photographing a number of events spearheaded by its Veterans Club.

This will be my fourth Veterans Day at NIU (yes, I'm a slow poke); at the bottom of this post (in extended) you'll find links to previous years' coverage. Also: More info on the this year's events.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

6:00 p.m. / Holmes Student Center / Heritage Room, 2nd Floor
NIU Veterans Club Community Roundtable: Is DeKalb a 'military town'? - The first such public gathering convened by the NIU Veterans Club, the discussion will be facilitated by Ilona Meagher, NIU student and author of Moving a Nation to Care: PTSD and America's Returning Troops. Download the event flyer [pdf].

We'll explore:

  • What makes veterans tick -- and what are they doing around town about it?
  • How are they different than the rest of us -- and how are they the same?
  • What are the positive and more challenging aspects of the military experience?
  • What resources do returning veterans need from their community?
  • What skills and expertise do they have to offer in return?
  • How does this affect the rest of us -- i.e., is DeKalb even a 'military town'?
More at the facebook event page.

FRIDAY | Nov 6
2:00-7:00 p.m. Open House, 7:30 p.m. Formal Ceremony / Holmes Student Center / Regency Room
Department of Illinois Military Order of the Purple Heart Movable Memorial Wall remembering Illinois’ Fallen Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans -- facebook event page

7:00 p.m. / Holmes Student Center / Sandburg Auditorium
Vet Art Project-NIU Presents New Art About War & Service -- a public performance and viewing. See the facebook group page for more information, or contact NIU Vet Club President JD Kammes at

11 a.m. / NIU Veterans Memorial / Castle Dr. & College Ave.
Veterans Day Remembrance

[UPDATE Nov 7, 2009] Event photos:

Mark McGowan writes for NIU's Northern Today:

Every Veteran’s Day provides a time for somber reflection, but this year’s remembrance comes amid sobering news.

October marked the deadliest month for the U.S. military since the war in Afghanistan began exactly eight years earlier.

As the United States mourns those 58 casualties, and as White House leaders ponder troop levels, NIU veterans and the campus community can participate in a week’s worth of activities in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Events begin Thursday, Nov. 5, with a roundtable discussion to enhance and improve understanding about war and military service, and conclude Wednesday, Nov. 11, with the traditional service around the flagpole.

Scheduled for 11 a.m. – observances typically take place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the NIU Veterans Club-sponsored flagpole ceremony offers a chance to pay tribute to men and women who have served, or are serving, in the military and to honor their sacrifices.

Speakers will include Lt. Col. Jonathan Thompson, a faculty member in the Department of Military Science. Dan Tsutsumi will sing the national anthem. Members of the NIU ROTC will provide the color guard and a 21-gun salute.

“If nothing else,” said J.D. Kammes, president of the NIU Veterans Club, “there can be one day when everyone can take a moment to remember the sacrifice of all the veterans over the years and show their appreciation for everything these men and women have done.”

“Veterans Day is a formal recognition of the service our men and women do for our country every day and to say ‘thanks’ to a group of people that doesn’t get enough recognition,” said Justin Faulkner, supervisor of the campus Veterans Assistance Office.

NIU communications major and noted blogger Ilona Meagher, author of “Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops,” will moderate the Nov. 5 discussion, which begins at 6 p.m. in [the Heritage Room, 2nd Floor] of the Holmes Student Center.

Veterans and members of the community are encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences.

Meagher guided a similar conversation earlier this year in Chicago, said Kammes, who also enjoyed a similar experience in an NIU class titled “Education as an Agent for Change.”

Classroom discussions occasionally centered on the war in Iraq, Kammes said. The other students “really started to understand” that members of the military are “just average people,” he said.

When students evaluated the class at semester’s end, “they were so grateful that veterans were in their class. They learned so much,” said Kammes, a history major who served in the Army from 1998 to 2005. “That motivated me. I said, ‘Hey, we need to continue this sort of thing.’ Ilona is the perfect mediator – nice and positive in a peaceful way.”

On Friday, Nov. 6, the Illinois Military Order of the Purple Heart will join NIU and the DeKalb County Marine Corps League in hosting an open visitation of the Moveable Memorial Wall.

The wall is composed of photographs of the state’s fallen soldiers from Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Visitors can view the wall from 2 to 7 p.m. in the student center’s Regency Room. A memorial service for the fallen from Illinois will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“Veterans Art Project NIU: Stories of War and Service” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium.

NIU veterans have collaborated with campus and local artists to create artistic expressions of their experiences in media ranging from paintings, plays and poems to sculptures, sketches and songs.

Kammes worked with artists Lisa Rosenthal and Jessa Carlstrom, who created a similar exhibition in Chicago last February, to bring the concept to DeKalb. The trio met in August with Rich Holly, dean of NIU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, and representatives of the college’s three schools.

There's more to read there, including info on a free oil change for veterans, but I've already snipped quite a bit.

Hope to see you on campus!

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