Veteran’s Day events: the Pocket Flag Project

photo credit: Marissa Tijerina

On Wednesday November 11, 2015 Master Sergeant Calvin McCrillis came to ENMU to speak with fellow veterans, students and faculty about Veteran’s Day and what it means to him.

He started off by giving definitions of the term “veteran”, one from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and the other from a friend on Facebook. McCrillis emphasized that a Veteran is someone who served in any branch of the military. After giving definitions, McCrillis asked veteran’s in the room to stand and be recognized when he mentioned each specific branch of the military.

McCrillis has 14 years of service and four years of recruiting under his belt. As a recruiter, McCrillis spends time with youth interested in joining the military. Out of the youth interested in joining the military, 25% qualify, according to McCrillis. McCrillis said that out of the 25% that qualify, about 7% actually talk to recruiters and out of the 7% that talk to recruiters, 1% commit to serve. In the eyes of McCrillis, the 1% that commit to serve says a lot about the character of today’s veteran’s. “They are much more intelligent,” McCrillis said.

He continued with his speech saying that as a history buff, it was important to give a brief history lesson on Veteran’s Day before explaining what Veteran’s Day means to him. According to McCrillis, November 11 was originally declared Armistice Day in 1926. After World War I, World War II and the Korean War, November 11 was officially changed from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day in 1954.

McCrillis stated that Veteran’s Day is no longer a day off from work for him. It is the one day that he gets to speak in various communities about honoring the men and women who sacrifice so much for their country. He said that he was expecting to see only older veterans at

this event. McCrillis was pleasantly surprised to see the array of attendees ranging from small children, students, community members and elderly veterans.

According to McCrillis, “Veteran’s Day is the opportunity to recognize those who sacrificed”. The only way that future generations will know the significance of Veteran’s Day, is if the meaning is passed down to children, according to McCrillis. If anyone wants to get a true definition of Veteran’s Day, “ask a nine-year-old what Veteran’s Day Means,” McCrillis said.

After McCrillis was done speaking about Veteran’s Day, the office of Native American Affairs hosted a Pocket Flag Project event. The event consisted of being taught how to properly fold an American flag so that they could be sent to various soldiers that are currently deployed. Native American Affairs’ goal for the event was to fold and package 300 flags.

“With the collaboration of Native American Affairs, the flags were purchased with the initiative of Staff Sergeant Michael ‘Mike’ Hamada of Cannon Air Force Base, 27th SOAOS Squadron,” according to Director of Native American Affairs, Thomas Lovato.

Hamada demonstrated how to fold the flags. The appropriate way to fold the flag consisted of making sure there were no red portions peeking out.

Hamada explained that receiving a flag from someone back home means more to the frontline than it does to anyone else. He said that the flag serves as a reminder of what they’re fighting for.

While participants continued to fold flags, Hamada told a story about his own personal flag that he received on one of his deployments from a church group. According to Hamada, the church group sent care packages which included the pocket flag. Hamada said that his pocket flag has been through many deployments with him and that he hopes to one day pass it on to his children when he has them.

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