Pictured from left are the three classmates that were instrumental in making this event happen: Bill Kerrins, Steve Arends, and Don Stevens.
This past weekend Saint Mary’s University (SMU) hosted reunions for its alumnus. On Friday, June 22, the graduating class of 1968 held a ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial site on the SMU campus.
Many of the 1968 graduates had something in common — the receipt of a letter from Uncle Sam. This notice/letter stated that they were no longer in a deferment status and were eligible for the draft. The majority were immediately inducted, completed their respective training, and went to Vietnam.
The SMU Veteran’s Memorial served as the perfect site for this event, and the weather couldn’t have been better, cast against the blue skies along with numerous cumulus clouds and the green backdrop of Winona’s beautiful bluffs. It was an ideal day, with Winona’s VFW Color Guard (Post 1287) adding the appropriate military element for this occasion.
Each veteran was given an opportunity to relate their experiences in war-torn Southeast Asia and tell about their uncongenial return to the United States. It was apparent some veterans still had vivid memories that were painful to talk about. However, it was amazing how they seemed to open up about their military experiences. Following the ceremony all class members gathered and had an opportunity to connect and empathize with one another.
The invocation was conducted by Fr. James Barrett (1968). Taps was played by Joe Ellis (1968). The graciousness and assistance of Color Guard members of VFW Post 1287, and the numerous support staff from SMU, contributed immensely to the success of this event.