ASU Salute to Service to honor veterans

Over 20 scheduled events to capture diverse aspects of service, recognize Vietnam vets

American flag

This year’s Salute to Service celebration at Arizona State University will honor the more than 3 million Americans who served during the Vietnam War with a mix of public events scheduled across ASU’s Phoenix metro campuses Nov. 1–12. 

Behind this year’s focus is a U.S. Presidential Proclamation from 2012, calling for the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War until Nov. 11, 2025 — to pay tribute to all Americans who served, and honor the more than 58,000 killed in action.   

In line with the proclamation, the Salute to Service theme this year is “Legacy of Service,” which aims to recognize Vietnam War-era veterans in particular, but also all others who have worn the nation’s uniform at other times during peacetime and war.

“There is a real legacy of service at ASU,” said Steve Borden, director of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “There were many Vietnam vets who were going to school here and studying in what is now the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.”

While some Vietnam veterans experienced a less-than-friendly welcome back to the U.S., they were largely welcomed at ASU. Former service members even formed a veterans club on campus, Borden said. A historical record shows the veterans club participating in one of the homecoming parades back then.

Salute to Service, in its seventh iteration, is an ASU signature event organized by the Pat Tillman Veterans Center in conjunction with the ASU Alumni Association and in collaboration with other units across campus.  

The event honors those who are serving or have served, but it also captures ASU’s commitment to inclusion by welcoming military-affiliated students to the university community. 

“When we create an inclusive environment, which is very fitting in line with Dr. Crow’s vision for this university, we create an opportunity for veterans and nonveterans alike to benefit from the diversity of service members and their legacy,” said Matt Schmidt, assistant director for outreach with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “I think our community is better and stronger through its diversity.”

A wide array of activities have been organized for this year’s celebration — from service recognition during Sun Devil Athletics events, to insightful panel discussions on a wide range of topics, to captivating media exhibits. Most events are free and open to the public.

For Nancy Dallett, associate director for ASU’s Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, the events organized here offer the opportunity to raise understanding as the nation grapples with the need to recognize and reduce the military-civilian gap. 

“Our office is pleased to be able to participate in Salute to Service 2017 and focus on our Vietnam War-era veterans and the legacy of their service,” Dallett said. “We have several opportunities for people to consider this divide and be part of the bridge.”

A screening of excerpts from highly acclaimed "The Vietnam War" documentary by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns released this year takes place Nov. 1 and includes a panel discussion on how journalists write about war.

On Nov. 2, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host a kickoff reception in Manzanita Hall where ASU alum Devin Mitchell’s latest Veteran Vision Project photos will be on display. This year Mitchell photographed 15 Phoenix-area Vietnam veterans.

But that is not all. 

“Those interested in documentary filmmaking can meet Iraq War veteran, filmmaker Daniel Bernardi and screen several of his films in the Veteran Documentary Corps,” Dallett said. “Or meet some women who served in Vietnam and will be sharing their stories and helping a young playwright refine her scripts for ‘A Morning in Vietnam,’ which will be staged in February 2018.”

Anyone interested in what is going on in today’s military can attend two panel discussions Nov. 2. Commanders of military bases in Arizona will be part of a discussion in Tempe’s Memorial Union on current challenges. That panel will be followed by one in the same venue with the commanders’ senior enlisted leaders giving a glimpse of what it means to serve.

On Nov. 3, the veterans chapter of the ASU Alumni Association will dedicate the ASU Veterans Memorial Wall inside the Tempe campus' Memorial Union. The wall will be inscribed with the names of the 134 ASU alumni who died serving the nation. 

The Nov. 4 football game against Colorado will feature a flyover by two U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet jet fighters from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. Vietnam veterans along with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) families who have lost members serving in the military will receive special recognition. Recognition will also be given to game-attending commanders from Arizona military installations and to recently retired four-star Air Force general and ASU alum Phil Breedlove, former commander, Supreme Allied Command, Europe, and commander of U.S. European Command. 

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will also host the annual Salute to Service Flag Football Tournament on Nov. 5 — pitting teams of ASU’s student veterans and ROTC units against each other for the coveted Dean’s Cup, currently held by last year’s champion Air Force ROTC team.

For a list of all Salute to Service events or more details regarding the events mentioned in this article, go here

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