Berkeley gets a jump on honoring heroes for Memorial Day

UC Berkeley military veterans

UC Berkeley has a long history of honoring its military heroes. (UC Berkeley photo)

By the time Memorial Day rolls around, most students at UC Berkeley have split for the summer. Many of the faculty and staff are vacation-bound, too.

So, the campus is getting an early jump on the holiday Thursday at noon by honoring those in the campus community who lost their lives while serving their country. The event is being sponsored by the on-campus Berkeley Veterans organization and the Cal Veteran Services Center.

“This is a way to recognize their patriotism and what they did for us by dying in theater,” Tyrone Wise, associate director of student experience, Haas School of Business, says. “That’s what the day is about. We’re taking a moment, because we won’t be here on that Monday (May 27). We want to give a clear understanding and representation of what it means to honor these people.”

Wise, a U.S. Navy veteran of eight years, says that, of the campus veterans who would otherwise be here on Memorial Day, many will go instead to their individual veteran posts or attend other remembrances or celebrations. Now, they also can gather on campus.

The ceremony will take place at the flagpole adjacent to California Hall at noon and is expected to last about 30 minutes. Chancellor Carol Christ is expected to speak at the ceremony. Also on the program will be the “Taps” bugle call, played by Berkeley alumnus Stephen Maris, a reciting of the history of Memorial Day and a sharing of the names of campus war veterans who were in the lives of those gathered. Refreshments will be served afterward.

This is the first time in several years that the campus has had this kind of celebration, Wise says.

“We are rebooting it,” he says, “and we are getting a lot of positive feedback from the staff.”