Veterans and active members of the military enjoyed an evening of free food and a theatrical performance on April 19, as the Department of Drama partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation to host Vet’s Night. As part of the evening, military members received a free dinner in Caldwell Auditorium as well as access to a preview performance of the University production of Our Town.
Our Town, written in 1938 by Thornton Wilder, chronicles the story of a small American town through the lives of its many residents. The University production featured an all-student cast and was directed by Matt Ripa.
Department chair Patrick Tuite said he was “very honored” to host veterans and military members for the show, and added that the servicemen and women in attendance came from various bases and institutions in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the Armed Forces Retirement Home, Fort Belvoir, the U.S.O, and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
University President John Garvey gave opening remarks during the event and thanked those in attendance for their service and for providing an “indispensable good for society.”
Sharing information about the University’s efforts to recruit and support veterans on campus, Garvey added that veterans bring unique skills and gifts to the University community because of their selflessness, willingness to take risks, and mission focus.
“They bring life experience here that other students don’t have — things that arise from their training and deployment, ways of thinking, and other manifestations of that experience,” he said.
In an introductory video at the event, actor Gary Sinise (who was honored with the University’s 2017 James Cardinal Gibbons Medal) said the evening was an extension of a long-standing tradition at Steppenwolf Theatre, the theatre he helped found in Chicago in 1974.
“To all you veterans in the audience, we’re grateful for everything you’ve done for this country,” he said. “Vet’s Night is a simple way of showing appreciation for your service, sacrifice, and bravery.”
Navy veteran Warren Pospisl was one of several veterans in attendance from the Armed Forces Retirement Home. He said he decided to attend Vet’s Night because he was curious about the play, Our Town.
“I went to high school in the 50s and we had to study that play,” he said. “That’s where I know it from, but I’ve never seen a production. I’m interested in seeing it.”
Senior Christina Rimbey, an international business major who is also a member of Army ROTC., was volunteering as a greeter for the night’s event. Rimbey, who will be commissioned in the Army this May, said it was “amazing” to participate in an event honoring veterans.
“We are who we are because of the people who came before us,” she said. “It’s a great experience being able to give back to the people who paved the way for people like me to be able to serve and who set the example for what I need to live up to and what I plan to live up to.”