Numerous commemorative events across campus honoring Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day, for many, is just another catalyst for an extended weekend. But for those students and community members who wish to take a moment to remember its true purpose, the Veterans and Family Student Association sponsored several commemorate activities across campus.

Interested veterans and non-veterans alike are encouraged to attend a gathering Thursday in the Memorial Veterans Lounge featuring historic military memorabilia and pictures loaned by local community members. Attendees may drop by from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to partake in refreshments and conversation.

Directly following the open house at 4 p.m., the ROTC rifle team will perform an exhibition routine in the Memorial Union quad.

Through Friday, OSU community members are encouraged to visit one of several booths in the MU created to honor veterans, particularly those listed as prisoners of war or missing in action. Visitors may take an orange carnation and place it in a designated vase to honor the memory of veteran.

Booths may be found throughout the MU, while the designated vase is located in the west wing, near the permanent veterans' memorial.

"A big thing is recognizing that the Memorial Union was originally created, not to sound too pretentious, but for veterans," said VFSA president Brian Benavidez. "It's important reflect on this building and why it stands and how that affects us as students, especially with so many student veterans among us."

Veterans who visit the booths are invited to place a pin on the world maps provided to represent the locations in which they have served.

Due to official campus closure Monday, no OSU student activities will be held on Memorial Day itself. Local middle school students, however, will have the opportunity to meet the Oregon State men's basketball team and participate in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, held in the Reser Stadium parking lot.

The tournament, OSU Hoops for the Troops, stemmed from a senior management practicum assignment and will benefit local veterans in the area. Half the proceeds will go to retired Col. Mike Rainbolt's ROTC and veteran support fund, while the remainder will benefit the OSU VFSA.

"I love (the setup because) it keeps everything in the community," said tournament founder Matthew Realph. "It's the community helping local kids do this project for local veterans with community participants."

Realph, a senior studying business management, said the project could not have culminated without the support of local families and community members. Fifteen households donated the use of their outdoor basketball hoops for the event and several private schools allowed him to distribute flyers to generate interest.

Both Benavidez and Realph expressed gratitude for the invaluable help of other OSU-affiliated organizations and individuals, including the MU staff and Veteran Resources office. Their aid made Memorial Week a possibility.

Overall, Benavidez said he hopes the events remind students to occasionally pause and reflect on the situations of others in the midst of their busy schedules.

"I'm hesitant to push the 'remember our fallen heroes' (piece)," Benavidez said. "We just want to show and make it very clear that there are veterans on this campus that have a pretty dynamic history outside of just your traditional student."

Tori Hittner

Higher education reporter

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