From the outside looking in, garbage plate-eating contests, dance-offs and four-legged relay races probably don’t seem like they are serving much purpose; but from the inside looking out, you need only to justify these actions with three simple words: ‘Support the Troops.”
‘When you look around campus, it’s not that students don’t want to support the troops; it’s more that they don’t know how to do so in an effective way,” junior Tim Sweeney, an ROTC member and brother of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity, said. ‘It’s just a chance to let troops know that we recognize what they’re doing.”
The second annual ‘Support the Troops” event was held last Thursday in Hirst Lounge of Wilson Commons to raise money for a local company of Marines who will be deploying in March. It was hosted by Kappa Delta Sorority, SΑΜ Alpha Mu and Sigma Nu Fraternity.
These organizations spread awareness by handing out symbolic yellow ribbons and held a raffle with prizes such as gift certificates to Jay’s Diner and Target.
They also invited students to fill out postcards which will be sent, with the help of Xerox, to troops overseas.
Along with the postcards, donations were also made to help Xerox create the care packages that they will be sending over.
After about an hour of nonstop contests, Captain Mason Harlow’s inspirational words flooded the room as he gave his speech. Harlow is currently providing the training here in Rochester for the reservists who plan on being deployed this February. Before he took on this role, he had been the one deployed to Iraq, and he did not go only once.
Not until the third time he went overseas did it get ‘real bad,” Harlow expressed.
The fourth and most recent time, he had actually volunteered to be deployed and he said he didn’t regret that decision at all.
Harlow was able to capture the attention of the room for at least an hour, not only talking to everyone, but also allowing everyone to become involved through a series of trivia questions and prizes. He continued by asking the audience, ‘Can you support the troops without supporting the war?” The general consensus, which he certainly agreed with, was that ‘yes, you absolutely can.”
But what more can be done to show support? This newly annual event is undoubtedly a great way for college students to get involved. But the point that Harlow was trying to make was that more people need to try to get involved not just once a year, but as much as possible, providing a continuous support system to troops defending our country day after day.
‘The true test is when you walk out of here,” Harlow said. ‘I challenge you to stay committed.”
And what a challenge that truly is. How many people can actually say that they have ever attended an event such as this one?
The students who were a part of last Thursday’s special occasion were hoping to spread a message throughout River Campus about just how important it really is to support the troops who are overseas.
‘It’s something I’ve been really passionate about,” junior Sara Cole, an ROTC member and sister of KD, said. ‘I am in the process of training to be an officer right now in ROTC and a lot of my close friends are about to join the ranks of the troops, so this cause hits close to home.”
Following Harlow’s speech, all three organizations that came together to create such a motivational evening continued with their special collaboration and took a group shot with Harlow and the few other marines who were present.
The event continued with students trying on the marines’ gear. Marching around the room with students’ helmets and backpacks was truly a sight to see.
Many students felt that simply supporting our nation’s troops makes a difference.
‘It means everything in the world to have someone come up and say thank you for what you’re doing,” Harlow said.
Maybe those passing by only noticed a garbage plate-eating contest followed by crazy relay races, but those involved knew they were doing much more than that.
They were a part of yet another year’s attempt at supporting the people who support our nation with undeniable courage and endless efforts.
Greenberg is a member of the class of 2011.