The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Seattle Pacific professor Dr. Jim Rand speaks to the crowd gathered at the Memorial Day observance in Tiffany Loop, where the American flag flying for the last 18 years was retired.
Photo credit: NICK HARTIGAN/The Falcon.
Cadre unites SPU’s military community
By RACHEL BOISEN, Features Writer
Published: May 30, 2012
White ash drifted across the crowd as black smoke floated to the sky and orange flames consumed the last of the red, white and blue fabric.
Yesterday, the Military and Veteran Support Cadre at Seattle Pacific gathered in Tiffany Loop to read the names of lost loved ones and retire the flag that has been flying over the rosebushes for approximately 18 years.
According to the United States Flag Code, a flag should be destroyed “when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display.”
The 40-member audience said the pledge of allegiance to that particular flag, which had tattered edges and dirty white stripes, for the last time.
Fingers raised in salute or placed respectfully over the heart, the audience looked on as SPU alumna Debbie Dawson played taps and sophomore Christine Smith, a member of the U.S. Army ROTC, slowly lowered the flag.
The color guard — Smith, senior Brian Husmillo, freshman Jordan Finley and junior Aaron Kim — held the flag open as Russ Killingsworth, assistant professor of mathematics, read a tribute to the flag, his own patriotic tie showing the twirling colors of Old Glory.
With that, the color guard folded the corners of the flag into the fire, ending with the blue stars. Gray smoke turned to black as flames engulfed the fabric, and the silent crowd watched.
After a respectful moment, the color guard moved back to the flagpole and unfolded a fresh flag, crease by crease.
“To the Colors” rang cheerfully on the bugle while the flag rose to the sky and the audience stood with fingers in salute once more.
Dr. Margaret Brown slowly read a list of those who died in war, including residents of Washington who died last year in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as loved ones of those present at the ceremony and members of the SPU students and graduates.
“It’s definitely not complete; we just don’t know who needs to be on it,” Dr. Brown said after the ceremony.
Additional names can be sent to Dr. Brown to be included in next year’s ceremony.
The ceremony took a moment to particularly remember Nicholas Aaron Madrazo, from the class of 2005, a member of the U.S. Army killed in action in 2008.
Madrazo’s father, Joel Madrazo, addressed the crowd, his wife Jenny Madrazo at his side.
“Thank you for setting aside this day for remembering those who died in service of our country,” Joel Madrazo said.
Nicholas Madrazo left SPU ready to serve the less fortunate and make a difference in the world, his father said. Joel Madrazo said his son believed in the university’s mission statement that calls its students to engage the culture and change the world.
“It’s a message that reverberates outside this campus,” Joel Madrazo said.
Joel Madrazo said his son joined the services because “he wanted to do something that is greater than himself.”
After their son’s death on Sept. 9, 2008, Joel and Jenny Madrazo decided to create the Nicholas Aaron Madrazo Endearing Service Foundation.
The NAMES Foundation is a volunteer organization that strives to support troops and veterans. This year, its goal is to raise funds to help family members travel to their wounded soldiers.
A main fundraiser for this goal is a 5- and 10-kilometer run to be held in September.
Killingsworth, Dr. Brown and Dr. Jim Rand, all veterans, are working together to support the faculty, staff and students who are veterans, currently in the service or have family members who are involved.
“The focus of the cadre really is to provide support,” Killingsworth said. “We want to be a resource to anybody who has military connections specifically.”
Dr. Brown said there are about three dozen student veterans on campus, as well as a dozen staff and faculty veterans, and she expects the number to grow.
Recent changes to the GI Bill allow soldiers to attend private universities such as SPU.
Veterans in the cadre include not only older veterans from the Vietnam War, but also 21- to 24-year-old veterans from current wars.
“They’ve already served, and they’re coming back to school, and it’s a whole different cohort of individuals,” Dr. Brown said.
The cadre works to continue actively supporting these individuals. It is connected with the Center for Career and Calling and hosted a Veteran’s Day Chapel last year.
“It really seems to have been meeting a need and making the military presence a little bit more obvious,” Killingsworth said.
The flag retirement ceremony was their last meeting of the year.
“We wanted to wrap up the year with something special at Memorial Day,” Killingsworth said.
Events such as these hold special meaning for freshman Emma Moody.
“My husband’s in the army, so it was natural to come,” Moody said.
She had been married for two weeks before her husband left for Korea, the day before she moved into the dorms at SPU.
“There’s nobody that can really relate [in the dorms],” Moody said.
Standing around the flag, hearing the list of names of people who died gave her an entirely new perspective.
“I’d like to think that if he died, people would support him,” she said.