The wind whipped through the courtyard, tugging at an American and a Wyoming flag. A small group gathered as people took turns Saturday reading the Remembrance Day National Roll Call from fluttering pages outside the Casper College Student Union and University of Wyoming at Casper Building.
The readers spoke the names of all the U.S. military servicemen and women killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Casper College Veterans Club organized the local event for Veterans Day, joining other groups around the county in the National Remembrance Day Roll Call. This is the first year of the event for the club, which plans to make it an annual tradition in Casper, said Nick Whipps, who oversees campus veterans activities as Casper College’s special population coordinator. The observance is open to anyone who wants to read names or simply attend, he added.
The group paused for a minute of silence at noon along with participants around the country at the same time, Whipps said.
“We thought we really want to do something that would honor those who’d made that ultimate sacrifice, and we wanted to do something simple but powerful,” Whipps said. “And what’s more powerful than standing out there and reciting the names of everybody who paid that ultimate sacrifice after 9/11?”
The roll call started with names from Alabama and proceeded alphabetically by state. Wyoming troops would be the last called. Whipps estimated about two dozen people read names from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
“We are going to be out here until that list is read,” he said Saturday morning. “If we’re out here until 6 p.m., so be it.”
Club member and past president Josh Banister found out about the National Remembrance Day Roll Call at a conference last summer for Wyoming college veterans services coordinators, he said. University of Wyoming had started the tradition on its campus, and the Casper College Veterans Club decided to participate as well, he said.
Memorial Day is the official holiday to honor those who’ve died in U.S. military service, while Veterans Day honors all veterans. But one day isn’t enough, said Banister, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2006.
“Everybody went there and left a piece of them there, and these are the ones that didn’t come back,” Banister said. “So I think that they deserve more than one day of honor, and I think that we can share our day to honor them as well.”
Casper College School of Science Dean Paul Marquard read some of the names Saturday morning. He came out to support the college’s veterans and honor all those who’ve served the country, he said. One of the last names read that day would be that of a former student and advisee of his, Wyoming Army National Guard Capt. Robert L. Lucero. Marquard remembers the friendly engineering student, who was killed Sept. 25, 2003 in Iraq. The instructor played bagpipes for Lucero’s funeral.
The list of names was provided by Eastern Kentucky University, which started the National Remembrance Day Roll Call, said Casper College Veterans Club’s president and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jordan Janski.
“They’re not just names, they’re people who went overseas to defend their country and they deserve to be recognized by everybody, not just once a year,” Janski said. “And we can help spread their name out there — for their family to hear, for somebody else to hear, their friend — to see it and to remember what they gave up for the county. It’s the least we could do.”