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Volunteers talk to one another at the annual flag display on Edmon Low Library lawn.

Veterans, volunteers come together for annual flag display

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Media Contact: Jordan Bishop | Editor, Department of Brand Management | 405-744-7193 |

Amidst a sea of waving flags, Oklahoma State University pauses to honor its veterans this Veterans Day.

Fallen veterans are celebrated at OSU every year during Veterans Day with a flag and dog tag display on Edmon Low Library’s lawn. This year, the event attracted more volunteers than ever. 

Vincent Rivera, OSU veteran success coordinator, said the word is finally getting out about this event. Despite being one of the busiest times of the semester, there were repeat and new volunteers, adding up to 78, with a grand total of 286 service hours. No new flags were added since last year, but the number of flags and dog tags is still staggering. Rivera said 7,158 flags and dog tags are on the library lawn this year. 

“I believe this comes from a few things,” Rivera said. “One is the OSU family’s commitment to their student veterans. Two, a community event where our students and the community supporters can come together for a day and work on a common goal. Three, it is two days of good, old-fashioned hard work.”

Volunteers placed 7,158 flags and dog tags on the library lawn this year.

Some veterans at OSU use this day to celebrate their family members, friends and colleagues. Tom Joyce, a U.S. Army combat veteran and OSU academic advisor, said he uses Veterans Day to call his family. He grew up in a family all about military service, with his dad, his grandfathers and his brother all veterans. 

Joyce said that for him, Veterans Day is about remembering the people he served with and his family. The flags on the library lawn are a symbol for him to recognize the fallen.

“I know some people out there,” Joyce said. “So I went out last week and found their name tags on the dog tags. It really meant a lot to me.”

Joyce was also the recipient of the Dr. Larry Sanders Veteran Champion Award this year for his work with OSU veterans. He said he’s grateful to be able to impact veterans in the OSU community and that he’s happy to help provide a support structure. 

“It’s just what I want to do,” Joyce said. “I love helping veterans. I love being around the military veteran community. Even yesterday, I had a half hour between appointments, so I went to the Veterans Success Center to hang out with them.”

If Joyce had all of the resources in the world, he said he would provide a system to transition veterans back into civilian life more smoothly and that the Veterans Success Center at OSU was doing a great job of this. 

Kristal Junkens, another OSU advisor and president of the Veteran Faculty and Staff Association, said she wants to ensure all OSU veterans know that the center exists. Many people don’t realize the Veterans Success Center is there for them, and Junkens hopes to be able to reach out and let veterans know that there is help and others to connect with. 

“I want to do something amazing, to get their attention and let all the veterans on campus know help exists,” Junkens said. “Even for our faculty. Some of our faculty are unidentified veterans and don’t want to share that. Helping them recognize that their service was worthwhile, it was meaningful and that people do care is my biggest dream of all.”

Students, faculty and Stillwater residents are invited to walk through the flags and look at the dog tags. The faculty at the Veterans Success Center — which is located in the Student Union basement — encourages everyone to take a moment, immerse themselves and see the names of the veterans on the lawn. 

“After Bedlam, I was concerned to see if maybe people would go through the flags,” Joyce said. “We went out there, and they were untouched. The fact that people respected that, especially during a time when so much was going on and there was so much celebration. I appreciate that. 

“Even in times of celebration, they still respected the flags and the dog tags and what they represent means a whole lot, especially to me.”

Story By: Mak Vandruff |

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