Albion College showed gratitude to students, faculty and alumni who have served in the armed forces with a luncheon on Thursday Nov. 11. The luncheon gave the veterans an opportunity to share stories as well as pay tribute to an American flag sent from Iraq by an Albion alumnus.
Jeff Carrier, Coast Guard veteran and emeritus professor of biology, brought in the flag that was sent to the college by Ryan Sweet, ’96 alum. Sweet served three terms in Iraq from 2008-2010 and is currently preparing for final deployment later this year. The flag flew over Fire Base Bennett in Tikrit, Iraq in 2009. Sweet recently donated the flag to Albion College, where it will be displayed in the library, Carrier said.
Carrier originally organized the Veterans Day luncheon, which is now sponsored by Albion College President Donna Randall. She made an appearance to thank all of the men for their service.
“Not very many faculty members are veterans,” Carrier said. “Several of us used to gather informally in the past, but we began initiatives on campus to try to bring students and other staff veterans in and the group began to increase in size. We saw this as an opportunity to also provide a support group for students who were also vets.”
After seeing how many Albion veterans were interested on campus, Carrier approached the president’s office about having a more organized event.
“I couldn’t even finish my sentence before Dr. Randall said yes,” Carrier said. “She’s been very supportive of this.”
Student veteran reaction has been positive as well.
“The lunch is great,” said Charlie Rubin, Brighton junior and United States army veteran. “It’s nice to see all these veterans from past years, past conflicts, and be able to compare and swap stories with them. It’s just a good experience.”
Carrier expressed his enthusiasm for the interaction between the older veterans and the student veterans as well.
“This seemed to be a way that we could have conversations with students and we could relate to them in ways differently than just faculty and staff. We could possibly even facilitate their time here at Albion College.” Carrier said.
Andy Layton, Battle Creek senior, also attended the lunch. He is an Air Force veteran with four years spent of active duty.
“It’s always great for the school to acknowledge veterans,” Layton said. “I think there’s more people that have served than people actually realize. It’s nice that they give us the opportunity to get together with everyone.”