Members of Kansas University’s Collegiate Veterans Association began work Friday on a landscaping project to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and honor those soldiers who sacrificed their lives in military service.
The veterans planted decorative grass and flowers around the flagpole at the Lawrence Veterans of Foreign Wars building, 138 Ala.
”Everytime we recognize that horrible event we’re trying to take away that sadness and we’re trying to replace it with some good,” said KU senior and Iraq war veteran Johnathan Duncan.
The group is made up of about 50 service men and women. Duncan said this is the best way to commemorate 9/11.
“To shed some sweat, I think, is a lot better than to shed a tear for those who have lost their lives both in wars because of 9/11, and to the civilians who lost their lives.”
The project was paid for by a grant from The Mission Continues, an organization that helps service men and women reacclimate to civilian life, continue their education and serve in their communities.
“It was great to get in there to till some soil and to take out the bad and put in the good,” Duncan said.
Group members said they wanted to do something active to mark the anniversary and give something back to an organization that has helped them since they returned.
“Without support like the VFW, the American Legion and Student Veterans of America, there’s no way we would be able to get through this kind of time in our life,” said Navy veteran Andrew Foster. The Operation: Enduring Freedom veteran said “helping other people” is something that helps veterans make the transition back to civilian life. “As veterans, this is doing the right thing.”
Rain kept the project from being completed Friday, but Duncan and his fellow group members will do whatever it takes to finish the project for the V.F.W. He said it’s their way of saying thank you.
“It was great to come back and have this opportunity,” he said, “and it was places like the V.F.W. and the American Legion that really made it possible for us.”