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Stanford campus to honor its past and present veterans

The Stanford community will celebrate Veterans Day with several events, including a reception today in the Law School lounge, a private event at the Graduate School of Business on Friday, an evening of storytelling on Sunday in the Old Union, and the placement of floral wreaths in Memorial Court and Memorial Auditorium on Monday.

Elaine Enos Wreath in front of plaque in Memorial Court

On Monday, as in 2010 shown above, the university will place floral wreaths in Memorial Court as well as in the entrance to Memorial Auditorium as tributes to those who have devoted years in service to the country.

On Sunday – Veterans Day – the Stanford Storytelling Project is hosting an evening of personal stories, music, letters and conversation with six Stanford student veterans who recently returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stanford veterans and some of their family members will come together for a single special event, "Voices from the Front: Stanford Students Returning Home from War," to share what they have experienced and learned, both about war and about the journey home.

The event begins at 5 p.m. in the A3C Ballroom in the Old Union. It is free and open to all.

"We're really hoping that "Voices from the Front" will create a unique space for the Stanford community to start a dialogue about the experiences that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have as they transition to war and return home," said Xandra Clark, senior producer and events director at the Stanford Storytelling Project.

"These personal stories aren't much heard in the news, but it's a conversation we really should have in America today."

The evening will feature excerpts from the project's new audio documentary of the soldiers, Returning Home, which will air on KZSU 90.1 FM at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 and 14.

In the documentary, the students talk about their decision to enlist, serving in Iraq, coping with the experience of war, coming home, going to community college, studying at Stanford and trying to figure out what to do next.

During Sunday's program, the audience also will hear other students recite letters that one of the veterans sent to loved ones back home.

Then, the six veterans, including one woman, will take the stage for a discussion with the audience. Joel Brinkley, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times who teaches at Stanford, will moderate the discussion.

Four of the six veterans who tell their stories in Returning Home graduated from Stanford within the past year. Two are still studying on the Farm.

Clark said many Stanford students are surprised to hear there are veterans studying on campus. Many students would like to talk to veterans about their experiences, she said, but don't know if it's all right to ask questions.

Currently, there are seven undergraduate student veterans studying at Stanford and 58 graduate student veterans enrolled in Stanford's seven schools.

"Veterans do want to talk about their experiences," Clark said. "For Sunday's program, we have created a space where that is permissible, where people can ask questions and begin a dialogue with veterans. It's really important to start that conversation on campus."

A reception will follow in a gallery space that will display special artifacts selected by the veterans, including photographs and other items from their time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event is being cosponsored by the Stanford Storytelling Project, the Haas Center for Public Service and the Stanford Military Service Network.

Today, the Haas Center and the Stanford Law School are co-sponsoring a Veterans Day reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Law School lounge. All members of the Stanford community and their families are invited to attend.

On Friday, the Graduate School of Business Veterans Club is holding a private event for business school students and their guests.

Also on Friday, the Hoover Institution will hold a 2 p.m. ceremony celebrating the 237th birthday (Nov. 10, 1775) of the Marine Corps. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Room 130 of the Herbert Hoover Memorial Building, located at 434 Galvez Mall. Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz will speak at the ceremony, which will last about an hour.

A moment of respect and gratitude

On Monday, the university will place floral wreaths in Memorial Court and at the entrance to Memorial Auditorium as tributes to veterans – past and present – of the Stanford community, and to those who have devoted years in service to the country.

A letter from President John Hennessy will be placed with the wreaths.

"We owe a great debt to those who serve and protect our freedom," Hennessy wrote in the Veterans Day letter.

"Stanford is honored to have about 60 United States military veterans currently enrolled at the university as undergraduates and graduate students," he wrote.

"Many have served in the past few years in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each year, for the past several years, their numbers at Stanford have been growing. This year we also have nine ROTC students. They contribute to the vibrancy of our community as well as to Stanford's rich heritage of service."

Inside Memorial Auditorium, which opened in 1937 as a memorial to Stanford's fallen in World War I, plaques bear the names of alumni, students, staff and faculty who have died in every war since then, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nearly four decades earlier, Jane Stanford had dedicated Memorial Court to the memory of Stanford volunteers who fought in the Spanish-American War.

"Please take a moment today to note the names on these walls," Hennessy wrote. "We ask that you pay them a quiet moment of respect and gratitude as we all are reminded that these areas of the campus were established for just this purpose."