Curtis, Thomas of SVA among vets commemorating Memorial Day in personal ways


Staff Report
The Carolinian

Veterans Christopher Curtis (Army) and Richard Thomas (Air Force) will commemorate Memorial Day in separate ways.

While Curtis will be at County Square for Memorial Day ceremonies, Thomas will visit a dear friend’s grave and WWII veteran who died in 2011.

Curtis and Thomas are members of the Student Veterans Association on campus. Thomas is Director of Media Services and Curtis is in IT.

Memorial Day is personal for Thomas. He has visited his friend, a Purple Heart recipient who served in the Army, for the past five years.

Thomas takes annual leave (USC Upstate does not observe the holiday) on Memorial Day. At some point Monday, Thomas will place an American flag at the head of his friend’s grave. “His passing prompted me to vow to never work another Memorial Day,” Thomas stated via email.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.

“It’s (SVA) a bunch of vets who served their time and come together and offer support, by that I mean camaraderie,” Curtis said.

The SVA has members of all military branches. “Everybody has different skill sets,” Curtis said. “Anyone can become part of the SVA, not just vets.”

Curtis emphasized the tradition of the flag ceremony that will be conducted at County Square is in front of the Greenville Veterans Memorial Monuments.

Traditionally, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain.

“A lot of vets don’t want to come in (SVA) because they don’t want to be in the spotlight,” Curtis said. Curtis was wounded during the Iraq war.

Curtis said the SVA “likes to work with other organizations on campus looking for collaboration and cohesiveness.”

Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. The Upstate Senior Concert Band and Clearview Singers will perform at the ceremony. There will also be speakers who served in various wars. Hot dogs will be served compliments of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

More information about Veterans Affairs on campus can be found here.



USC Upstate should observe Memorial Day as ‘no work’ holiday

By Dr. Ray Merlock

I have agreed with Robert for years now that Memorial Day should be observed by USC Upstate and other state agencies as a “no work” holiday.

My father passed away two years ago.  He was a wonderful man who was drafted into the U.S. Army before Pearl Harbor.  He served statewide in New England loading explosives and missiles onto Navy vessels (I did not realize how dangerous this work was until I saw the citation in a trunk decades later).

Then, after the surrender, he became part of the Occupation Force in Japan and was not discharged and able to return home and marry my mother until 1946.

Compared to him and so many others, my own military service seemed to me less valid. I was drafted in 1970 and worked for two years until discharge on The Modern Volunteer Army (MVA) Project and ending the draft.

We want to know what you think. Email Lucy McElroy, Editor, The Carolinian.