SIUC event honors veterans, first responders

(Source: Arnold Wyrick, Heartland News)
(Source: Arnold Wyrick, Heartland News)

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University Carbondale paid homage to veterans, service personnel and first responders with two special events on Wednesday, September 11.

SIUC held an appreciation activity and the inaugural "Run to Remember 5K Run/Walk."

The 9/11 Day of Remembrance and Service event gave everyone an opportunity to say "thanks" to area veterans and first responders.

"I just retired from the military eleven days ago. 9-11 has a big impact on me and my family," said John Okerson U.S. Army Veteran. "And remembering this and not letting anybody forget, and trying to help the community to remember. I buried a lot of friends, brother and sisters, this is my way of remembering them."

Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to stop by either location and make appreciation cards for veterans, local firefighters and police officers. The Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism sponsored the event.

Organizers distributed the cards to local police and firefighters, the SIU Carbondale Veterans Center, and to veterans at the Marion VA Medical Center.

The Run to Remember 5K Run/Walk was at the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex, with pre-race ceremonies featuring the posting of colors, the national anthem and an invocation. An SIU graduate student veteran conceived the idea for the event in memory of 9/11.

"I'm very proud to support the first one of this kind of an event here at SIUC," said Caroline McElya of Mechanicsville, MD. "This is the town I grew up in. And I'm proud of them for putting together this event to remember the events of 9-11."

After the race there was a short presentation featuring someone who was on the scene in New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attack. There was a 21-gun salute, and taps played to close the ceremony. Area first responders, National Guard personnel, and veteran's service organizations were on hand with information and special displays.

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