By Laura Long
Continuing a new Veteran’s Day tradition for a second year, the “Lights on the Lake” celebration honored those who served our country despite the need to change plans due to weather. The celebration, which moved inside to the Bannister Glasshouse, welcomed local veterans for a celebration to honor their service and the service of loved ones.
The event, designed to bring Reinhardt students together with veterans from the surrounding community, provided an important opportunity to share in the history these veterans dedicated themselves to preserve while affording the opportunities these students have for their future.
One of the event founders, Student Affairs graduate assistant Dominique Xiong ’19, shared that “Lights on the Lake” fulfilled its purpose of honoring veterans for their service while connecting local veterans and Reinhardt students.
"The Reinhardt family is a community of not only those on campus but includes those within our local community as well. The foundation of Reinhardt's educational experience is the interweaving work of all these people, not just the work of a few. The vision for the “Lights on the Lake” Veterans Day event was to create a celebration in which all members of the Reinhardt family could come together in honor of our service members. Every person's journey in life is unique. But, the journeys of students who've crossed paths with our veterans have been positively impacted in countless and sometimes invisible ways. “Lights on the Lake” is meant to not only to thank our veterans for serving our country, but also thank them as family members for making the education of our students possible."
The evening began with choral performances of patriotic songs from a student group ensemble from the performing arts school and soloists Gabrielle Woodward and Mason Greer. The space was enhanced by art from associate professor of art Jym B. Davis and his students.
Interim President Mark Roberts spoke on the meaning of Veterans Day in history and today with the common theme of the common good.
“The importance of Veterans Day is to recognize, celebrate and honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. The common good. A message we should all remember and need to say often,” said Roberts. “It is a day when we are to put down our arms and relish in friendly relations with one another.
“Our veterans sacrifice themselves. They decide that instead of serving themselves they are going to serve their country. That is a great, great sacrifice. Veterans Day is to celebrate those people who put that kind of sacrifice for us, for liberty, for justice, it’s what the United States stands for all Americans,” Roberts concluded.
Josh Garner, Coordinator of Spiritual Life and Service offered an invocation of thanksgiving.
“Lord we give thanks for our peace, prosperity and security and on this Veterans Day. Thank you especially for the women and men who gave of themselves in times of war to help ensure the blessings we enjoy. The names, faces and stories come to us once again and we honor them. Their courage and sacrifice, their willingness to put themselves in harms way for a better life. As we recognize Veterans Day we can never thank our military men and women enough for their courageous service to our country and its people but today we lift our voices to express gratefulness and honor to these military troops and their families both from the past and the present. May we never forget. With our freedoms today we pray for the sick and hurting amongst us, we pray for our Reinhardt family.”
Lanterns were then decorated in honor of veterans with patriotic symbols, names of loved ones and many creative ways to express thanks for their service. Because of the weather, the lanterns were collected to be released into Lake Mullenix on Nov. 12 as a visual representation of the veterans loved and supported by the Reinhardt community.