Planting flags on The Green
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson November 06, 2017
Veterans Week begins with flags to honor service members
Veterans, civilians and University of Delaware ROTC Air Force and Army cadets gathered before dawn Monday morning on The Green to plant flags. The event marks the start of Veterans Week and was organized by the Blue Hen Veterans (BHV).
About 100 volunteers lined up at 5:30 a.m., with measuring tape laid across The Green, to ensure the 6,940 flags were placed properly in rows. Each flag represents a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine killed on duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The number is based on the official count kept on the U.S. Department of Defense’s website. Organizers said they prefer an early start so the flags are set up by the time students are out and about. The flags were purchased last year using University funds and student allocation.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much effort it takes to organize and get this set up, “ said ROTC Executive Officer and UD senior, Mackenzie Clancy. “Some years we have been here until 7:30, 8 o’clock. This year it went pretty smoothly.”
After graduation in the spring, Clancy will join the Army in active duty as a second lieutenant.
Between handing out flags and sticking them in the ground, volunteers were invited to partake in complimentary doughnuts and coffee provided by Wawa of Newark. BHV approached WaWa several years ago to ask if it would support this event, and BHV President and UD senior Lindsey Baryluk said the store has participated every year since.
Baryluk said she noticed more support for veterans during her time at UD.
“There have been a number of people in the administration that have worked really hard to help veterans on campus, especially Dean of Students [José-Luis] Riera,” Baryluk said. “He has been very good about listening to veterans as a group and trying to help us out in the best way possible.
“Blue Hen Veterans has been more of an advocacy group in the past just because we did not have a whole lot of people in the administration that knew a lot about how to help veterans. Now we have a veteran coordinator, Brooks [Raup].”
Raup, who served in the Army as an intelligence analyst, works in the student veterans services department, which is part of the Office of the Registrar.
As more were planted, the growing sea of red, white and blue flags surrounded by fall foliage and cloudy skies sent a striking message.
“One flag equals one life,” Raup said. “If you look at the fatality in this whole event, I really think it hits home to show the freedom we have today is not paid for in dollars and cents. It is paid in service members killed. I think the cost of freedom can be looked at on this Green by each flag.”
While Monday’s ceremony was meant to honor those who have died, Veterans Day is intended to celebrate everyone who has served. People often confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, which is meant to pay tribute to those who have died while serving in the military.
Raup works with veterans to help them transition into higher education, navigate the University’s systems and start college a little older than the typical first-year student.
“They need someone that can give them guidance, who can feel what they feel and know exactly what they are going through,” Raup said.
UD is known for the good relationship it has with veterans around the state. In June, the University entered into a new partnership with the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center. This partnership is an opportunity to focus on research to improve care for America’s military veterans. UD also ranked fourth among the Top 10 Gold Military Friendly School Award winners in the category of Tier One Research Institutions for 2017, according to Military Friendly, an organization owned and operated by veteran-owned Victory Media.
“I appreciate that the University of Delaware has turned Veterans Day into Veterans Week,” said Army Maj. Brian Babcock-Lumish, department chair and professor of military science, who began working at UD in June. “That speaks to the way in which this community values service. And it's great when you literally look out and you see all of the people out here volunteering today placing the flags.”
Babcock-Lumish most recently worked as an intelligence officer based in Hawaii. He said the community has welcomed him since his arrival at the University. He said he also appreciates the respect for veterans he sees, including from many people who have no apparent ties to the military.
“I mean that’s emblematic of this community and the way in which everybody pitches in,” Babcock-Lumish said. “Whatever the task is — in this case planting the flags on The Green — I’ll use a Navy term, it’s all hands on deck.”
A photo gallery of Monday's flag planting can be found here. The fourth annual Veterans Day Flag Ceremony will take place on Friday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m., on The Green. A full list of UD Veterans Week events can be found here.
About the Blue Hen Veterans
Blue Hen Veterans is a registered student organization recognized through the University Student Centers. The mission of BHV is to provide military veterans with the support and advocacy needed to successfully transition to college and excel academically, and to gain employment after graduation.