By Jordan Beach
The feeling of gratitude was evident as the Reinhardt community gathered on the patio at Lake Mullenix and welcomed local veterans to join in an evening that honored their service and the service of loved ones.
Continuing in the tradition of taking a moment to recognize and honor those who have served our country on Veteran’s Day at Reinhardt University, Student Affairs took the yearly event to Lake Mullenix for “Lights on the Lake.”
The brainchild of Student Affairs graduate assistant Dominique Xiong ’19 and Reinhardt senior and student nurse George Seddon, the “Lights on the Lake” served its purpose of honoring veterans for their service while connecting local veterans and Reinhardt students.
“I wanted to bring together two parties that likely do not have the chance to have meaningful interactions with one another in daily life: veterans and young adults. Orchestrating this vision into reality required me to collaborate extensively with departments across Reinhardt’s campus as well as complete outreach initiatives to those in our community, such as local church congregations,” Xiong said. “I could not have been more pleased with how the event turned out – and what attendees expressed about how the event impacted them.”
President Kina Mallard started the event by asking those in attendance to reflect on all the ways we as United States citizens are afforded freedoms as a result of veterans who have fought and defended our country.
“Let’s reflect on the establishment of justice, the fighting to protect domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, to promoting the general welfare and securing the blessing of freedoms from oppression,” said Mallard. “Let’s reflect on those who fought and died to protect our freedom of speech and action—even when it offends us. To protect the freedom to worship as we please, to secure the right to participate in debates over government policies and decisions, and the right to vote and select our leaders.
“Let’s reflect on those who fought and died because they believed in something bigger than themselves, something we can’t touch or purchase, or even fully give language to or appreciate. They fought and died for an ideal, a system of beliefs, a better way of being together, a respecting those who are different than us, a believing in a better future for our great country. They fought and died for the great hope of the United States of America, and for that we are grateful,” she continued.
Rev. Jamie Hudgins followed by offering a prayer of thanksgiving.
“I’m thankful for so many things; for opportunities that we have each and every day, to move freely around this country, to pursue education, to pursue our dreams and goals. Through the service of men and women, who sacrifice their time—time with their families, time with loved ones, time in their home—to go and defend in the democracy in which we’ve been born in. God, we’re thankful for that freedom, we are thankful for their service, we’re thankful for the grace that you lavish on us,” said Hudgins. “Father we thank you for this and pray your blessings over all who are serving and even those who have served and are back home, creating new lives and new memories and new ways of service. For all these things, Lord, we are thankful.”
Lanterns were then decorated with patriotic symbols and the names of loved ones to be honored. The lanterns were released into Lake Mullenix as a visual representation of the veterans loved and supported by the Reinhardt community.