Pay Attention and Pay Respect: Pitt Hosts National Remembrance Day Roll Call

Issue Date: 
November 3, 2014

On Monday, Nov. 10, the names of 286 people— representing the lives and sacrifices of some of the Commonwealth’s bravest sons and daughters—will be read aloud into the quiet, echoing sanctuary of the Heinz Memorial Chapel. The names belong to the 286 men and women from Pennsylvania who died serving operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who will be honored as the University of Pittsburgh participates in the National Day of Remembrance Roll Call.

This year’s ceremony, to be held from 1 to 3 p.m., marks the fourth consecutive year of Pitt’s involvement in the nationwide event, which has colleges and universities around the country commemorating Veterans Day by remembering the lives of those killed in recent conflicts abroad. Pitt’s Office of Veteran Services, within the College of General Studies, coordinates the Roll Call with the help of student, faculty, and staff veterans who will step forward to read the names of the fallen. Many of these volunteers also choose to read the names of service members they wish to commemorate who are not from Pennsylvania.

“The Roll Call gives me a chance to honor people I served with, guys I consider my brothers. They’re no longer here, but their families are, and their spirits are still alive,” said Matt Hannan, president of Pitt’s chapter of Student Veterans of America and a former Marine who served in Iraq and elsewhere. “This event isn’t so much about being remorseful that they’re gone, but rather celebrating the lives they had and the work they did.”

The service will include addresses by Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and G. Reynolds Clark, vice chancellor of external relations and chief of staff to the Office of the Chancellor, as well as a speech by honored guest Brigadier General Ricky D. Gibbs. Mayor Bill Peduto may also attend the event.

Attendees will have the opportunity to write thank you letters to active service men and women. In addition, members of Pitt’s Student Veterans of America will collect donations for the Wounded Warriors and Veterans Education Assistance Fund, which was established by a Pitt Business School graduate to honor the courage and sacrifice of Sergeant Jeremy W. Feldbusch (A&S ’01).

Roll Call coordinators chose to host the event one day prior to Veterans Day, which is Tuesday, Nov. 11, so that Pitt students and faculty could attend off-campus events planned for the official holiday.

“It is important for us to remember the sacrifices and commitment that veterans made to us as citizens and as a country,” said Cristina Ruggiero, associate dean for the College of General Studies. “We’ve been in conflicts overseas for so many years, and for the most part, most Americans are not affected on a day-to-day basis. I think we can forget what people have done for us so that we may have that luxury. The Roll Call is a way to recognize those efforts and those sacrifices, and to pay attention and pay our respect, so that we honor their service.”

The National Remembrance Day Roll Call is the unofficial capstone for more than two months of Pitt events acknowledging and celebrating the University’s dedication to serving those who have served. Previous events include Conflict Zone: A Groundbreaking Look at War, a University Art Gallery exhibition that displayed images from the front line of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; All In: The University in the Great War, a Hillman Library photo display that runs through Dec. 13; and September’s Centennial Celebration of the Unifying Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which took place in the William Pitt Union.

For Hannan and many of his fellow veterans at Pitt, the Roll Call’s evolution over the last four years is an indicator of the University’s commitment to its veterans.

“I’m really grateful for how this event has expanded and continues to, with more speakers and more attendees each year,” Hannan said. “To see the participation from the University and its community continue to broaden—that says a lot.”

More information on the Roll Call and Pitt’s Office of Veteran Services is available at visit