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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

UC Davis honors Aggie military veterans at Memorial Day service

The event featured Xóchitl Rodriguez Murillo as the keynote speaker, as well as remarks from Chancellor Gary May


By JADE BELL — campus@theaggie.org

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On May 25 at 4 p.m., UC Davis honored Aggie military veterans during the 2023 annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Memorial Union’s (MU) North Courtyard. This event commemorated the 136 Gold Star Aggies, or fallen soldiers who were previously enrolled at UC Davis. 

The service began with a reading of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Memorial Day proclamation by the Undersecretary for Minority and Underrepresented Veterans Russell Atterberry.

“On Memorial Day, we remember and honor the courageous men and women who laid down their lives to protect our cherished freedoms and way of life,” Atterberry read. “Upholding a solemn tradition that dates back to Decoration Day in 1868, communities across the country will gather to pay tribute to the selfless heroes: our friends, family and ancestors who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.”

After the reading, Chancellor Gary May provided his statement. This year marked the first time he has spoken at the event since becoming chancellor in 2017. 

“It’s an honor to be here to pay my respects and honor the courageous Americans who have died in war while defending our nation and our best ideals,” May said. “I also like to acknowledge those who came home with scars, both physical and mental, and those who never came home and whose fates are still unknown. [On] Memorial Day, we have an opportunity to echo the significance of this important day to our country, our state and our campus.”

May went on to introduce keynote speaker Xóchitl Rodriguez Murillo, the Deputy Secretary for Minority and Underrepresented Veterans and a veteran of the Army Reserve. She shared what Memorial Day means to her and the purpose of recognizing military veterans.

“I’m honored to be here with you today,” Rodriguez Murillo said. “I address you not only as a representative of Cal Vet but also as a veteran of the United States Army [and] an active member of the Army Reserve. I am a proud graduate of this wonderful university, class of 2008. We, all of us, are here because we know the real meaning of Memorial Day. It’s about remembrance, reverence and respect.”

After the memorial service, a reception for attendees was provided. During this transition period, military veteran Cecil Frank shared what this Memorial Day service meant to him.

“The experience took me back to remembering a lot of the other comrades that were not as lucky to come home as I was, or some of the other folks that came back with me,” Frank said. “I think it’s a good event to remember those that are gone and acknowledge their sacrifice.”

Written by: Jade Bell – campus@theaggie.org