Red, White, and Blue: Veterans Day observance overlooks smurf turf

Veterans and supporters gasped in awe as two A10 Thunderbolt II’s screamed through the air over the Sky Box overlooking Bronco Stadium, then watched in respectful silence as the two planes disappeared into the horizon above the city.

This signaled the commencement of Boise State’s yearly observance of
Veterans Day.

Ryan Gregg, president of the Associated Students of Boise State University, thanked veterans of all backgrounds and situations, for the sacrifices they have made for our country.

“To all the current and former members of the United States military, I am humbled and honored to be spending my Veterans Day with you and your families,” Gregg said.

Audience members also heard from two veterans, beginning with Marine Staff Sergeant
Joseph Danes.

Danes addressed the issue of unemployment veterans returning from the Iraq war, and those coming home from the war in Afghanistan, face in the civilian work force.

“The problem is not that there are no jobs, the problem is that there is a gap between the skills required for these jobs and the skills held by job seekers,”
Danes said.

Danes also expressed the need for returning veterans to obtain job skills through the G.I. bill and invest themselves in the American economy.

Danes pointed out the American government invests highly in armed forces personnel, and veterans should do their part to help the government obtain a return on those
investments.

“Right now, America needs skilled, hard working, highly motivated, and ethical workers and leaders, and this is where we as veterans come in,”
Danes said.

Dean of Students Christian Wuthrich, Ph.D., addressed the audience, illustrating the large amount of student veterans enrolled at Boise State.

“On average, for four year institutions, the enrollment is about 450 students per campus,” Wuthrich said. “At Boise State University, we enroll more than 1,200 students that take advantage of the G.I. bills and Veterans Affairs benefits.”

Wuthrich thanked veterans attending Boise State in particular, for their display of leadership and personal investment in the community.

Honored guest speaker, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Mary Kelly of the Idaho National Guard, was last to address the audience, commenting on her current role in assisting returning veterans to adapt to civilian life.

“It is so wonderful to help a service member and their family when any small issues come up, or large, but we know that even the small issues make a big difference in how they feel and can be when they come home,” Kelly said.

Audience members then observed a moment of silence for those veterans who had fallen serving their country.

Following the moment of silence, a small group of red, white and blue balloons were released and observed in silence to commemorate the service of those deceased.

Veterans and civilians alike stood in silence as the balloons drifted upwards and out of sight into the gray sky.

Then a third grade class of Garfield Elementary in Boise slowly took their places in front of the large bay windows of the fourth floor of the Sky Box to sing “America the Beautiful.”

Audience members nodded approvingly, and some were moved to tears by
the sight.

“We said, ‘Lets bring a third grade class,’ and so I talked to my administrator and said, ‘Well, couldn’t we bring all of our third graders,’” said Teresa Colebrook, music director at Garfield Elementary.

Colebrook commented on the excitement felt by the third grade class by being able to honor veterans.

“We made scarves,” Colebrook said. “All the kids made their own scarves. We planned on being on the blue turf.”

Observance of Veterans Day was moved to the fourth floor of the Sky Box, instead of being held on the Bronco Stadium turf due to inclement weather.

Just over half of the chairs arranged for guests sat empty throughout the event, and few students appeared to attend.

“I thought it was a really nice ceremony,” said audience member Liberty Kiehn. “I was disappointed more people weren’t here.”

About the author  ⁄ Ryan Thorne

Ryan Thorne

Ryan Thorne was born and raised in the beautiful city of Twin Falls, Idaho. He now lives in Boise where he enjoys being a student at Boise State University. As the Investigative News editor, Thorne is always hot on the trail of the next big story. In his free time, he can be found playing the guitar, reading, or exploring scenic outdoor Idaho. Follow him on Twitter @ryanthorne86 or friend him on Facebook.