By Rebecca Fiedler and Trey Gregory
Staff Writer and Reporter
Multiple generations of veterans joined with Baylor students and the Waco community at 5 p.m Monday in the SUB Bowl to share stories and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who served in the military.
The Veterans Day ceremony included speeches from veterans and President Ken Starr, a performance by singer Holly Tucker, a Lorena junior, the playing of the military trumpet piece “Taps” and a flag-folding ceremony, as well as the recognition of service of the five branches of the U.S. military.
Guest speaker and retired Gen. Paul E. Funk, who served for 30 years as an Army officer and fought in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, began his speech by quoting President Abraham Lincoln, crediting Lincoln for starting the efforts that eventually led to the creation of Veterans Day.
Funk quoted an old Army slogan, “Where we are needed, we will go.”
“And that’s what veterans do,” Funk said.
Funk said he was humbled by how his soldiers took care of each other in Vietnam.
“Even though the war wasn’t supported at home, we served honorably,” Funk said. “We served honorably because we weren’t fighting for a flag, king or political leaders. We were fighting for each other.”
Funk then shared personal stories of how hard it was to come home as a Vietnam veteran. He said people were taking their anger and frustration with the war out on the soldiers, not the politicians who sent the soldiers to war.
“I couldn’t be prouder to see all the yellow ribbons after I came home from Desert Storm,” Funk said. “You can be against war and not against soldiers.”
Seattle junior Bryan Solis, Marine Corps veteran and public affairs officer for Veterans of Baylor, presented Funk with Solis’s own American flag, which has been flown over multiple U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, and in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Early this morning we added Baylor University to its list of travels,” Solis said to Funk. “We hope that you’ll find a great sense of pride in receiving this gift, not from an individual Marine, but from a group of veterans, as it represents the American spirit across the world.”
Maj. Santos Arroyo, battalion commander of Baylor Army ROTC, shared stories of fellow soldiers who died in combat, including a fellow Puerto Rican.
“Another young captain, a native of Puerto Rico, was in the last months of his deployment, anxiously looking to reunite with his pregnant wife and receive their first child, when an improvised explosive devise killed him and his drivers,” Arroyo said.
Jessica Alford, Veterans Affairs coordinator at Baylor, attended the ceremony and said she enjoyed Arroyo’s speech.
“I did like Major Arroyo’s speech,” she said. “I just thought it was neat how he talked about his Puerto Rican fellow veterans — people who come from other countries to serve the United States.”
James Schutz, a WWII Army veteran from Morgan attended the ceremony because his granddaughter attends Baylor, said he liked the Veterans Day ceremony.
“I’ve been trying to keep up with all the functions through the years since I was in the service. I didn’t make all of them, but I’ve made as many as I could.”