Robles’ heart touched by JMU Veteran’s Day


Photo Courtesy of Genesis Robles

Junior Genesis Robles hugs her brother Erick Colon who is currently serving in the U.S. Army.

Karleigh Gentry, Page Editor

Not only did the local Veteran’s Day Parade take place Nov. 10, but James Madison University also announced their Veterans Day plans for Monday, Nov. 11 by posting a video to different social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. 

According to the post, JMU planned to display 7,008 miniature American flags on the Quad for the fourth year in a row. The Veterans Scholar Task Force, Student Veterans Association and Army ROTC program at JMU have all assisted in some way to put on the display. Jacqueline Krawiec, a Second Lieutenant and gold bar recruiter for the ROTC program, has helped with this event since the first display in 2015. 

“We have been involved since the beginning [because] we wanted to give back to our community and participate in the day that recognizes the heroism of the veterans that helped shape the nation of today,” Krawiec said. 

Not only does Veteran’s Day hold a special place in Krawiec’s heart, but it also holds a special place in the students’ hearts, especially those in the ROTC program, due to family connections.

“Many family members of mine have served in the U.S. Army, including my father, [so] it means so much to me because they have given their time to serve our nation and create a pathway for myself and others to serve as well,” Krawiec said. “They are the reason the nation is as strong as it is today and it hits close to home knowing my family has served. Each one of us [involved with the program] is serving or has a plan to serve and has been touched by someone who has served.” 

Additionally, Veteran’s Day, in Krawiec’s mind, brings the nation together to honor those who have served in the past or are currently serving. 

“Veteran’s Day is a significant holiday because it is a day to remember those who have served and fought for our nation. Many gave their lives fighting for our nation and although we should show appreciation every day, Veteran’s Day allows one day for the entire nation to come together to recognize them,” Krawiec said. 

Each of the flags represents a casualty in the Global War on terroism, according to the video released by JMU. The visualization of over 7,000 lives lost shows our community the importance of their sacrifice, according to Krawiec. 

“The flags symbolize not only the lives lost in combat, but all of the veterans who have served [as well and; therefore] it allows students, faculty and other members of the community to visualize the lives lost and soldiers who have served and fought for our freedom,” Krawiec said.

Junior Genesis Robles, who has the opportunity to receive a full-ride scholarship to JMU through the Valley Scholars program, is touched by the display that JMU continuously does for veterans. Robles is thankful to see a college that she is thinking about attending in just a couple years honor veterans in a way that many others aren’t so others can understand the sacrifice that soldiers must make, one of which is her brother Erick Colon. 

“[The display that JMU has been doing for years] makes my option of going to JMU more considerable,” Robles said. “[My brother] makes me proud. The price for the sacrifice he’s making is my family’s fear of something happening. It’s a higher price if you ask me, but regardless, I feel very proud of him.” 

Colon has been involved in the U.S. Army for five years. Since then, Veteran’s Day has had a new meaning for Robles. 

“Veteran’s Day for me reminds me of the people that swore to sacrifice their lives or put them at risk for this country, and knowing that my brother is under the same oath makes everything more meaningful,” Robles said. 

In addition to the flag display, JMU also invites veterans to their campus, according to Jonathan Alger, who has been the president at JMU since the middle of 2012.

“The university has a strong and active ROTC program to prepare future officers to serve our country and we actively seek veterans to work and serve at our institution,” Alger said. 

Furthermore, Alger believes the flag display is beneficial to show thousands of people of all ages the fight it takes for their freedom to be maintained. 

“As the university is named after the Father of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison University has a responsibility to educate and inform citizens about the efforts needed to sustain our democracy,” Alger said. “Veteran’s Day reminds us that our freedom and democracy require significant commitment by many people including many who put their lives on the line to ensure our freedom. We must honor and respect that commitment.”

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