Groups honor U.S. veterans

On Sunday afternoon, a group of about 30 shivering people gathered beneath the flagpole in Beinecke Plaza for a “Rally for America” sponsored by the Yale College Republicans.

The purpose of the Sunday rally was twofold: to honor the veterans of American wars and to show support for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Reserve Officers Training Corps held another Veterans Day rally Monday on Beinecke Plaza.

As people arrived Sunday, they were handed American flags and greeted by patriotic songs, including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Before the program began, three men in soldiers’ uniforms walked slowly and silently through Woolsey Rotunda, looking at the names of Yalies who had died in the service of our country.

A statement by Todd Abrajano ’02, president of the Yale College Republicans, opened the event. Abrajano said the purpose of Sunday’s rally was to mark the two-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and to celebrate Veterans Day. He said college republicans all across America simultaneously held similar events.

Francisco Ramirez ’02, a U.S. Navy veteran, led the Pledge of Allegiance. After a few brief comments by Abrajano, the crowd joined in singing “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Next, Abrajano introduced Capt. Charles Bolles, company commander of the Army Recruiters of Southern Connecticut. Bolles began his remarks by saying that he has never served in combat but was there to honor people who have served and who serve today. Bolles said the ribbons on any Army officer’s uniform represent wars won by Americans. Those who wear the ribbons carry on the tradition of soldiers who have fought, Bolles said.

“As long as there is America, people like you, people like me, people like our kids will need to defend it,” Bolles said.

After Bolles finished speaking, Abrajano played “God Bless America.” During the song, Bolles and two of his fellow recruiters stood stoically in their crisply ironed green-gray uniforms and berets. One of the recruiters sang along with the recording, as did some students.

Abrajano concluded the rally by inviting everyone, including those who were not Yale students, into Woolsey Rotunda. On the marble walls of the rotunda are carved the names of Yalies who died in battle.

“Yale has a tremendous history of service to our country,” Bolles said.

Abrajano emphasized the importance of patriotism throughout the year.

“Not just today on Veterans Day, but everyday, we can celebrate being Americans,” Abrajano said.

He said the rally also aimed to counter people speaking against the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.

“Almost every poll that has been done [has shown that] about 90 percent of people are in support of the war,” Abrajano said. “That support just hasn’t been very vocal on college campuses across the country.”

J.P. Marini, president of the Connecticut Union of College Republicans, said he enjoyed the rally.

“[It was] a great nonpartisan event,” Marini said.

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Marianna Mancusi-Ungaro
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