By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - Honor, courage and commitment were highlighted as virtues of American service men and women during a Veterans Day observance at Tivoli Commons this morning.
About 100 people from the Auraria Campus, including a large contingent from the University of Colorado Denver, gathered to pay tribute to those who have served, past and present.
Speakers included Raul Cardenas, PhD, associate vice chancellor for student affairs at CU Denver; Stephen Jordan, PhD, president of Metropolitan State University of Denver; and Cliff Richardson, interim president of the Community College of Denver.
The ceremony, held under sunny skies, also featured a processional and color guard by the Metropolitan State College ROTC and the Scottish American Military Society. The group Reveille 3 sang songs commonly heard during the World War II era and a flag raising occurred at 11:11 a.m., in accordance with Veterans Day tradition.
Cardenas thanked the military veterans -- faculty, staff and students -- for their service and commitment. He noted that the Auraria campus has nearly 2,000 student veterans, including CU Denver's 900 prior service members, a group that has tripled since 2009. "Our CU Denver student veterans have demonstrated their commitment through their studies, as evidenced by a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and by a retention rate of 78 percent -- well above the regular undergraduate student retention rates," he said.
Cardenas noted that the 300-member Veteran Student Organization (VSO) is the largest student organization at CU Denver. He highlighted three veteran students as a "sample of what our veteran students look like:" Justin Mayhall, a Navy corpsman who started the VSO on campus; Ashley Metcalf, an Air Force veteran who is VSO president; and Kami Fluetsch, a Navy corpsman who is the planning committee chairwoman for Saturday's Veterans Day Celebration.
"We're just very grateful," Cardenas said. "It's important to serve our students, particularly those who have served us. We have benefited greatly from their service to us individually and our country."
Cameron Cook, CU Denver's veteran student services director, said the annual observation is about recognition of veterans. "It's just like Raul said -- honor, courage and commitment -- that we know they exemplify this. It's just recognition and appreciation."
Jonathan Doke, a Navy veteran and reservist, transferred to CU Denver last summer to complete his bachelor's degree in applied mathematics. "I wanted to show my support for fellow veterans and just see what the representatives from the schools had to say to the veteran student body."
He said he's enjoying the new, 2,000-square-foot Office of Veteran Student Services in the Tivoli Student Union. Doke goes there frequently to study and relax. "It's a nice, quiet space," he said.
Today's ceremony closed with a moment of silence in homage to fallen brothers and sisters in arms and a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace." Red, white and blue balloons were released and drifted above the Auraria Campus.
CU Denver will hold a Veteran's Day Celebration on Saturday at the Lawrence Street Mall, including inaugural Veterans Day Flag Football Tournament, fireworks and flyover. Click here, or contact the Office of Veteran Student Services for information.
The flag football competition, called the Auraria Cup, will involve six to eight teams and take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Auraria fields. It will be immediately followed by fireworks.