VALPARAISO | The afternoon autumn sun streamed through the stained glass windows and fell upon the color guard carrying flags down the aisle.
A small group gathered Sunday in the Valparaiso University Chapel of the Resurrection for United in Service, a Veteran’s Day service organized by VU students. The event featured scripture readings by members of the Valparaiso University ROTC and music by VU’s Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Richard Schraeger, a VU sophomore from Johnston, Iowa, organized the event, with the help of friend and fellow student Eric Langholz, as a result of having served in ROTC at VU.
Although Schraeger no longer participates in ROTC because of a medical condition, his loyalty to the organization and the military remains steadfast.
“Service became of great importance to me through that experience,” Schraeger said. “I wanted to give back to my friends and people that I respect for the service they do for our country.”
The group also is collecting donations of nonperishable food and toiletries to send to troops in Afghanistan and cash donations that will help fund a campus memorial for Christopher Patterson, a VU student and Indiana National Guard member who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in January 2012.
“Everyone came together to honor these great people,” Schraeger said.
Guest speakers at the service included VU students and Bob Patterson, Chris Patterson’s father.
Sarah Fingerle, a VU student and ROTC member, summarized her notion of service.
“What you can do for others, you should do for others,” she said. “I serve so that other people can live their lives in safety and enjoy all the blessings this country can give them.”
Louis Glinzak, a VU law student and member of the U.S. Marine Corps, said joining the service is “one of the things that felt right.”
“I wanted to give back to a country that has given so much to me,” he said.
Bob Patterson praised the choir, of which his son was a member, for its musical contribution.
“The hardest part,” said Patterson, pausing. “I keep listening for that tenor.”
Patterson said celebrating Veterans Day this year has been “very emotional, very powerful” for him and his family, and he commended those present for their service.
“Service must come from the heart, you must believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing,” he said.
Patterson said his son's dedication to the military and to his role as a musician at VU embodied the notion of service.
“He (Chris) loved music and he loved performing because people loved music, and he was doing it for them,” Patterson said.