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Honoring our veterans in 2021

The U celebrated both the 2021 and 2020 honorees in the annual Veterans Day ceremony.

The University of Utah honored 11 Utah veterans and awarded the Student Veteran of the Year at the 24th Annual Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. The tribute held in the A. Ray Olpin Union Building ballroom is one of a series of events planned throughout the week to honor veterans. Events included a movie night, a virtual presentation on identifying America’s unknown soldiers using evolving DNA technologies and a student-sponsored bowling tournament.

The commemoration ceremony was preceded by a bagpipe procession from the J. Willard Marriott Library Plaza to the Union at 10:30 a.m. Nominations came from across the state, and the 11 veterans honored received a commemorative medallion on stage at the ceremony. Honorees from the 2020 cohort were also invited to attend this in-person event since the pandemic delayed the ceremony last year.

“This year’s ceremony has been doubly rewarding for campus because we were able to honor both the 2021 and 2020 honorees in person,” said Paul Morgan, director of the Veterans Support Center. “The past two years have been difficult for many reasons for so many people. These honorees provide extraordinary examples of the American spirit that emerges in challenging times. They give us hope that any trial can be overcome when individuals come together and sacrifice for the greater good.”

Army ROTC Cadet Sydney Garcia led the ceremony conducted by cadets from the Army, Naval, and Air Force ROTCs. Sterling Paulsen, an Air Force veteran, KUTV meteorologist and Veterans Day Commemoration Committee member narrated the medallion presentation. Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney also provided remarks during the program and gave thanks to all service men and women from all branches of service and all conflicts.

The Student Veteran of the Year was awarded to Alex Penegar in recognition of his achievements in the classroom and his volunteer work both on and off campus. Graduating in December 2021, Penegar will receive a B.S. in Kinesiology, with minors in chemistry and psychology. Penegar has volunteered with the Student Health Advisory Committee, Student Veterans at Utah—two campus organizations—and Anatomy Academy, which teaches human anatomy, physiology and nutrition to fifth and sixth graders at Salt Lake Arts Academy. After graduation Penegar intends to apply for medical school.

A pre-recording of the Utah National Guard’s 66th Annual Veterans Day Concert, featuring the 23rd Army Band and high school choirs from the Granite School District performing an array of patriotic songs can be viewed here.

Utah Athletics will recognize service men and women from all branches of service at a special halftime show during the Utah vs. Oregon football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 20. At the game, Utah Football will shine a light on the history of the World War II-era heavy cruiser the USS Salt Lake City and its forgotten remarkable story. Created specifically for the game, the commemorative uniforms feature the distinctive camouflage design from the warship that earned 11 battle stars. Learn about the design elements and more here.

The 2021 honorees: