While Veterans Day will be celebrated nationally tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 11, HCC held its own Veterans Day event yesterday, Nov. 8, where HCC students, staff, faculty and friends gathered to honor veterans and also kick off a Toys for Tots holiday campaign.
Wednesday's celebration began at The Bunker, the HCC veterans lounge and study area at Frost 149. HCC student veterans dressed in their military uniforms welcomed guests and then led a procession outside where they set up the American flag in the courtyard.
"We're here to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives so we can enjoy the freedoms we have here in America that people may take for granted," said HCC student Robert McRobbie, a Marine Corp veteran of the first Gulf War.
Elyse Pommenville, a member of the HCC jazz band and concert band, played taps. Kurt Bordas, an HCC student, member of the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard and a CQ-charge of quarters-at The Bunker, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Elizabeth Golen, HCC student activities coordinator and honorary commander in chief at The Bunker, thanked student veterans for their service and announced the creation of a perpetual plaque to be unveiled soon at The Bunker. The plaque will include the names of all HCC student veterans involved in The Bunker and veterans activities on campus with room for more names to be added to in the future.
Wednesday's Veterans Day event also served as an open house for the HCC veterans lounge.
"We thought it would be nice to invite everyone to come down and see The Bunker," said Golen.
The Bunker officially opened in the Fall of 2010. McRobbie said The Bunker has been invaluable to him and other HCC student veterans as a campus refuge. "Because of my PTSD, trying to find a quiet place to study was a problem," said McRobbie, who suggested naming it "The Bunker." "Anyone who's been in the military knows the bunker is a safe zone."
The Bunker, along with the HCC Criminal Justice Association announced the start of the Toys for Tots holiday toy drive, which will run through Dec. 14th. The collection of toys is being organized by the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve Machine Gun Platoon support company out of Westover Air Reserve Base. There are two collection points for toys, one at The Bunker, Frost 149, and the other in the main lobby on the third floor of the Frost building. Toys can be for children of any age and should be new and unwrapped.
Photos: (Left) Elyse Pommenville plays taps during Veterans Day events at HCC Wednesday. (Right) HCC student and Marine Corp veteran Robert McRobbie, inside The Bunker.