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November 13, 2012

For our freedom: Remembrance Day National Roll Call, other activities honor the troops

TERRE HAUTE — For 15 minutes Monday morning, Robert Jean stood outside, in the cold, reading aloud the names of American service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He stood at a podium, alone, in front of Rooney Library at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

He was among more than 30 Woods’ students, staff and faculty to participate in the Remembrance Day National Roll Call, in which volunteers took turns from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. reading names of more than 6,600 fallen service members.

Similar roll calls took place at 93 colleges and universities in 37 states.

“Veterans Day has a very special place in my heart,” Jean said after he had finished his turn.

“My son served a year in Iraq, and so I know the sacrifices they all make to ensure our freedoms,” Jean said.

His son serves in the Indiana Army National Guard. “He is doing what he always wanted to do — he’s wanted to be a soldier since he was age 12,” Jean said.

After Jean finished reading names, student Jessica McManus began her 15 minutes. “I wanted to do this in honor of my grandfather, who served in the Navy” during World War II, she said. He died a year before she was born.

She wanted to participate “to honor the troops who served for our country and for our freedom.”

 In conjunction with the roll call, SMWC hosted other activities at Le Fer Hall including a Fallen Soldiers Table, a station to create hand-made camouflage rosaries and opportunities to become involved with the Student Veterans Organization, which is in its first year at the Woods.

Sarha Jones, a Woods sophomore, is president of the SVO, which seeks “to educate people and make the programs better for veterans who are students here.”

The college has 27 students who are military veterans enrolled in its campus, online and graduate programs.

Jones gave opening comments for the roll-call at 8 a.m. Participating in the national  remembrance event is a way for the SMWC “to show our support. We’re a military-friendly college, and I think it’s good to show it,” she said.

The SVO helps veterans transition into college and college life, said Frank Whittle, the organization’s adviser and assistant professor of business. He is also a military veteran.

Meanwhile, in Le Fer Hall, a group of students gathered to make Catholic rosaries to send overseas to members of the military who request them.

Josephine Nieto, Woods sophomore, said it takes her about 45 minutes to make one of the rosaries out of camouflage twine. The rosaries require more than 50 knots.

Nieto said two of her cousins recently joined the military and “being able to do something to show we care means a lot.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or


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    March 12, 2010