Texas State honors American warriors in veterans commemoration


Jamie Dorsey

Mary Ann Vasquez holds a sign in support of veterans attending the San Marcos Veterans Day Parade, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in downtown San Marcos. [Photo by Jamie Dorsey]

Abby Gutierrez, Life and Arts Reporter

Texas State encouraged students, families and the San Marcos community to gather together for the Veterans Day commemoration on campus to celebrate and honor bobcat veterans, living and lost.

Student Foundation and the Dean of Students Office organized the commemoration, held from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Nov. 11 in The Quad. A series of events occurred at the commemoration to pay tribute to the American heroes, including the posting of the colors, an invocation, a military flyover followed by a moment of silence and a testimony from the event’s keynote speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Sandra Rygalski.

The commemoration opened with the posting of the colors and the national anthem played by the Texas State marching band. Afterward, President of Student Foundation Alex Wheeler introduced President Denise Trauth to the podium.

Before announcing the keynote speaker for the commemoration, Trauth extended her own words of gratitude to the military veterans on behalf of the university.

“We are proud that Texas State has a strong reputation for being especially supportive of our military service members and veterans,” Trauth said. “It’s truly an honor for Texas State to be home to so many American heroes.”

According to Trauth, Texas State is home to about 15,000 students who are veterans and two successful ROTC programs. She recognized the military families and the struggle that they have endured so that their loved ones may serve.

“My husband John Huffman was in the military for eight years, first in the Navy and then in the Airforce,” Trauth said. “So, I know firsthand the sacrifices that family members make as they support our military.”

Rygalski served the U.S. Army for 20 years and is a retired veteran. In her speech, she recounted her fighter spirit in the fresh faces of the newest recruits upon the Iraq-Afghanistan war and other foreign military members she encountered across the world.

“I always believed that those who served share a certain warrior spirit, and sometimes they don’t even recognize it in themselves,” Rygalski said. “They’d given the world their (yes) at that time, and that warrior spirit seemed even more profound.”

Rygalski said Americans continue to eagerly step up and volunteer to defend our country in its weakest moments. She said they are propelled by a unique patriotic spirit and stand steadfast against the risks they may encounter.

“The American warrior spirit has existed as long as we’ve been a nation,” Rygalski said. “Americans, at the most critical time in our country’s history, have been asking ‘how can I serve?’, ‘where can I go?’”

Rygalski shared with the audience about her father’s journey as a military member. Jose Reyna, Rygalski’s father, is also a retired veteran. After retirement, Reyna found a career in federal law enforcement and graduated from Texas State in 1981.

“My father retired from the air force, and I have to say, my dad is the proudest airman I have ever known,” Rygalski said. “I am very proud to share with my father the great distinction of being both a veteran and a bobcat.”

In ending her speech, Rygalski said she wants to extend thanks to her fellow veterans and the active military members currently deployed.

“To all the veterans here today who were willing to give all, and to all the veterans who are not here today because they did give all, I thank you,” Rygalski said.

Recruiting and Enrollment Officer for Army ROTC Jeff Coulter served in the U.S. Army for 27 years and he said he appreciates the work that went into commemorating the veterans on campus.

“I thought it was done very well,” Coulter said. “Obviously, a lot of effort and thought went into it, and as a veteran, I am very appreciative of that.”

Coulter also said Veterans Day and Memorial Day are two of the most important days of the year for him.

“It’s important for this nation to commemorate both its living veterans and its fallen veterans,” Coulter said.

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