Nov. 11, 2011. 11/11/11. A rare date of wish making and parties was also an annual date of remembrance, or did you forget? By the looks of the crowd, or lack thereof, on the front lawn for VSU’s National Roll Call, it would seem so.
From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., 52 people within the VSU and Valdosta communities stood in the numbing, biting cold to call the names of the 6,300 plus men and women who lost their lives in both the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom during this decade.
Less than 30 bystanders showed up.
I stood out there. My heart broke as I heard the names: Lance Cpl. Jason Barfield, Sgt. Edward Grace, Spec. Kevin Shumakerthe. My eyes teared up and my heart clenched as the list continued.
I prayed. I listened, but where were you?
These men and women died for us. Just like you and me, these men and women had families, friends, jobs and hobbies. These men and women went to class, took tests and wrote papers—just like you and just like me.
These men and women gave up everything to fight for something they believed in: protecting us. Where were you?
Not everyone would have been able to stay the whole time. The speakers even had to leave after their segments. We are all busy, hustling and bustling through the halls, our minds focused on that assignment that’s due but plans to go out.
But were you so preoccupied and so busy you couldn’t stop for a minute and stand in silent remembrance? I don’t think so.
When people were approached about their lack of attendance, many claimed they didn’t know. Air Force reservist, 26-year-old McKaylee Higgs said that Moody Air Force Base didn’t really draw attention to the event either.
What is this saying? Is it people’s ignorance and apathy towards announced events, or is there really a lack of advertisement?
The people who showed up cared. The people who remembered and honored the day cared.
You say you care, but where were you? You say you didn’t know, but what about the people who strolled along by the Front Lawn? Didn’t you think to stop when you saw the dog-tag-wearing rifle standing between the boots on the wooden block?
Would you have stopped if you knew?
I know not everyone remembers Veteran’s Day. I know not everyone knew about this event; it is impossible to tell and remind everyone.
There were emails. There were news releases, stories; our editorial for the week even spoke of the event.
Perhaps, if there was a sign hanging up on the Pedestrian Mall, more people would have come.
You say you didn’t know. Well now you do, so stop.
Stop tweeting and texting. Stop playing Angry Birds and Farmville.
Stop reading. Close your eyes and breathe in with these words in your mind and heart.
Now, breathe out.