'Operation Not Forgotten' hopes to make us remember
Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house makes ribbons, plants flags in honor of ‘the fallen’
There are many ways in which we honor the sacrifices made by our veterans over Memorial Day weekend.
They generally include special observances at area cemeteries and gatherings at community parks, among others, and are usually staged by veteran’s groups.
Students at Eastern Washington University’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity engaged in the effort for the first of what they hope will be a regular and ongoing tribute with “Operation Not Forgotten.”
“In honor of Memorial Day we just wanted to give thanks to the fallen service members who have given us the freedom to be here today,” fraternity spokesman Kyle Dodson said.
The house has residents who are currently serving in the Army and Marine Corps Reserve and the National Guard, Dodson said. House members thought this was the right way, and time, to raise awareness in the community that Memorial Day is not just a regular day away from work but that people have sacrificed for it.
“So far it’s been a success and everyone likes it so I think it’s a new tradition we stumbled on,” Dodson said.
The effort included making 6,805 red, white and blue ribbons to commemorate each individual soldier that has fallen in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, fraternity member and one of the event organizers, Hunter Ringsage said.
“Overall on campus, everyone has been accepting,” Dodson said.
A second and very noticeable part of the observance was the placing of 148 American flags on the front lawn of the fraternity. The flags indicate the number of Washington state residents who had died in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Ringsage said.
“We have a very patriotic house, we’ve done the haunted house before,” Ringsage said. All proceeds from that activity went to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Besides distributing ribbons across the EWU campus and throughout the community, the Cheney School District took 500 last Friday to distribute.
The reaction to Operation Not Forgotten has been positive, but when asked, Dodson said, “It’s funny you say that, we set out the flags at 5 a.m., but earlier, about 2 a.m. someone came by the house and littered the grounds with bags of newspaper clippings.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.