ROTC presents colors at the Veterans Day Ceremony
Photo by Alexa Henderson

To celebrate Veterans Day, the University of Wisconsin-Superior held events throughout Nov. 11 – 15, 2019 in honor of those who have served or are serving the United States of America.

On Nov. 11, 2019, students and veterans gathered to honor United States’ veterans during Veteran’s Day Ceremony and 7th Annual Excellence in Service Awards. The event was held in the Yellowjacket Union Atrium 11:00 a.m – noon.

The event began with the presentation of colors by UWS Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), then singing of the national anthem, a warrior song performed by the Buffalo Bay singers from Red Cliff, and a welcome from Chancellor Dr. Renee Wachter.

Monte Stewart, the Student Services Coordinator of the Veteran & Nontraditional Student Center, then opened the ceremony. “Since the Henry Blomberg Excellence in Service awards inception in 2013, we have recognized 49 different veterans who make up our campus community. It is an honor to showcase their personalities and achievements during this ceremony. We are thankful that we have been able to start a Veterans Day tradition at UW-Superior. I hope we can…give back to those veterans who have given so much.”

Six veterans were recognized during the ceremony: Christopher Beron – U.S. Army, Brad Hammond – U.S. Air Force, Matthew Holcomb – U.S. Army, Amber Nielsen – U.S. Army, and Samuel Zurian – U.S. Army. The special guest speaker was David Van Landschoot, a U.S. Army veteran, was surprised by also being recognized in the ceremony with the other select veterans.

Award recipients (from left) Christopher Beron, Samuel Zurian, Matthew Holcomb, Brad Hammond, Julie Knutson Allen (recieving in place of Amber Nielsen), and David Van Landschoot.
Photo by Alexa Henderson

Nov. 12, John Kriesel appeared as a guest speaker noon – 1:00 p.m. in the YU Great Room. Kriesel was a Minn. Politician who previously served on the Minn. House of Representatives and in the Army National Guard.

After losing both of his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq, Kriesel decided to co-author an autobiography, Still Standing. For his service, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal. Currently, Kriesel uses his experience for motivational speaking.

“When the bomb happened, my vest opened up, and I took shrapnel to my intestines. Now, I’m mostly glad I didn’t see that while I was still in Iraq, but when I was in politics people liked to say ‘You’re gutless,’” said Kriesel. “I’m able to say, ‘No, I’ve seen them, I promise they are there!’” His experience, camaraderie, and loss reached the heart of attendees through bouts of laughter and audible gasps during the humorous and emotional moments in his speech. Kriesel continued, “[Losing my friends] was the absolute rock bottom, but that was the moment I started living my life. I realized that regardless of my injuries, regardless of the road to recovery ahead, it would be really crappy to sit here and feel sorry for myself when I got a second chance at life that my friends didn’t get. I vowed from that day forward that I wasn’t going to waste my second chance.”

Kriesel closed his speech with advice to enjoy life and that a person never knows what’s going to happen next, so seize every moment with passion.

Nov. 13, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., was the Ask a Veteran Q-and-A Forum, held in the YU Atrium. Students and staff took to the microphone to ask questions of six selected UWS campus veterans of different backgrounds and experience. The veterans spoke candidly about fond and less-than-stellar memories they have from serving.

Other events offered throughout Veterans Week were Free Fitness Week for Veterans, Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes, and Green Zone Training. Free Fitness was Nov. 11 – 15 in the Marcovich Wellness Center. All veterans had full, free access to the MWC and its amenities. Holiday Mail for Heroes was held Nov. 12 and 13, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. by VNSC members. Students, staff, and community members were able to write a letter to a military service member that would be sent to them during the holidays. Green Zone Training occurred Nov. 14 11:30 a.m. – 12:50 p.m. in the William ‘Pope’ Wright Jr. Student Center. The training is designed to develop campus community and support for student veterans.

For more information about the VNSC, contact them by emailing