While the number of speakers may have been reduced and the guests at home or in their offices, SRU still took time Nov. 11 to honor those who served this Veterans Day.

A collaboration between the SRU Office of Alumni Engagement and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) has been going on for well over 15 years according to Kelly Bailey, director of alumni engagement.

Previously, the ceremony would last over a half hour and host over 100 veterans and guests, but due to COVID-19 restrictions on campus, the ceremony had to adapt.

Still included were the singing of the national anthem, wreath laying ceremony and veteran and SRU senior Steven Pancoast reciting the poem “My Name is Old Glory,” which was written by Howard Schnauber. This year, in lieu of physical guests, the ceremony was livestreamed over Facebook.

Pancoast, a ten-year Navy veteran who served as an explosive ordnance disposal technician, will be graduating in the spring with a degree in exercise science.

He said he enjoys getting in front of group to talk about things from the veteran perspective since veterans make up such a small percentage of the SRU community. During the 2018-2019 academic year, SRU had 153 students utilizing educational benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense, according to the Department of Education.

For Pancoast, being able to show another side of who veterans are other than what is portrayed in movies and on television and “demystify” veterans for a younger generation that may be too young to remember the Global War on Terror period is rewarding.

As he finished reciting “My Name is Old Glory,” Pancoast stepped aside and Cadet Sean Aston moved to place the wreath at the base of the Alumni Veterans Memorial, a tradition used to honor all veterans who gave their life in defense of the nation.

With the completion of Taps, the ceremony finished in under ten minutes. Even though the conditions were not ideal, Pancoast said it was still nice to have something instead of canceling the event outright.

While there may not have been the hundred plus attendees to observe and pay tribute to SRU veterans and other throughout the country, the video from the ceremony had been seen by more than 3,000.

Knowing the reach virtual events have and how simple it was to setup, Bailey said it is pretty much guaranteed to be included in future years – but she also wants to have people back in-person as soon as it is safe.

SRU’s 2020 Veterans Day Ceremony can be viewed on Facebook, here.

Joe is a senior communication major with a concentration in converged journalism. This is his first year with The Rocket as assistant news editor. Before joining The Rocket, Joe worked at Butler County Community College’s student newspaper along with a short-lived career as public affairs sergeant (along with many other assignments) with the United States Army. When not covering campus news, Joe spends his weekends with his fiancée and son in Slippery Rock.

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