Hamline News

Celebrating and Honoring Service Members

Military students bring a different perspective to Hamline than those who may have no connection to the U.S. Armed Forces. They may have experienced the battlefield, or have a family member currently serving the nation.

In short, there is no typical Hamline military student. However, they do share “a willingness to step out of what they know,” as Kelley Lasiewicz ‘19 put it.

Lasiewicz is an Air Force Reservist who also worked as the Outreach & Communications Coordinator for the Military Student Organization (MSO).

Military students “have had the unique opportunity to learn about ourselves in relation to the world and the people around us,” Lasiewicz said.

On Friday, May 10, Hamline honored graduating military students with a dinner and reception attended by members of the MSO, President Fayneese Miller, Associate Dean of Students Carlos Sneed, and other members of the university community.

The reception included remarks from President Miller, conferring of graduation stoles, and a speech from Lasiewicz.

In her address, Lasiewicz talked about the challenges of being a military student and reminded guests of what makes these students unique.

News and social media might characterize veterans as being unable to handle life outside the military but Lasiewicz said “we have been trained, when things around us fail, to pick up the pieces and take the lead, much as Hamline tells us to do through their own motto.”

She continued, “I cannot think of a better way to do that, but to pursue your dream even when life has thrown random obstacles in your path.”

One of the obstacles that military students face is loss, specifically loss of friends and colleagues. For that reason, the graduation reception included a “Missing Service Member Table” and 25 seconds of silence in honor of the absent. Hamline’s MSO includes a Missing Service Member Table at all of its formal events.

The table holds deep meaning for military students and provides a fitting point of reflection for Memorial Day 2019. Its meaning is poignant:

The table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one isolated prisoner and representing all Americans who were or are still missing from each of the services – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – and civilians, all with us in spirit. As Americans, we should never forget about the sacrifices of the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call and served the cause of freedom in a special way.

The table is round – to show our everlasting concern.

The cloth is white – symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve.

The single red rose reminds us of the lives of these Americans…. and their loved ones and friends who keep faith, while seeking answers.

The yellow ribbon symbolizes our continued uncertainty, hope for their return, and determination to account for them.

A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter fate, captured and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears of our missing and their families - who long for answers after decades of uncertainty.

The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return – alive or dead. The glass is inverted – to symbolize their inability to share a toast.

The lone chair is empty – for they will not be joining us.

Hamline University students have a long history of military service that began during the Civil War and continues through the conflicts of the present day.

This Memorial Day and every day, the Hamline community appreciates the sacrifices of all military students and is honored to have been a part of their journeys.

Learn more about support for military students at Hamline.

Written by staff.