Salt Lake Community College’s Veterans Services presented their annual flag ceremony Nov. 9 at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus to honor both veterans as well as Native American Heritage Month, which spans the entirety of November.
The ceremony began with an invocation from a man who celebrates both.
“It’s always an honor to give a blessing, and I’ll do that in my … Goshute Shoshone language,” said Virgil Johnson, a current member of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation and former United States Marine. “I will speak to the creator on our behalf for this hollowed spot that recognizes veterans.”
The first of two speakers was Tim Mugridge, an Army veteran who graduated from SLCC’s film production program last year. Mugridge has since worked on several movies about veteran awareness and is set to graduate from Weber State University in the spring with a degree in film studies.
“That would have never happened if I didn’t land here at Salt Lake Community College,” Mugridge said.
The second alumni speaker was Army veteran Dan Conley, who graduated from SLCC in 2011 with an associate degree in business management. Conley went on to receive his master’s in business administration from Western Governors University in 2015.
“Over the years, Veterans Day has had a lot more meaning for me, especially as my veteran friends get older,” Conley said. “I think a lot of us really minimize our contributions to our country and our society, and that is something that I’m changing myself.”
Dances that honor
In celebration of Veterans Day and Native American Heritage Month, Ashlee Raining Bird and Aleila Kicknosway performed the jingle dress dance, the origin of which comes from the story of a father who healed his daughter with a drum ceremony after dreaming about a dress and a song.
Deztan Kicknosway then performed the chicken dance, which intends to show the connection between Indigenous people and the creatures with which they share the land. The story goes that a warrior once killed one of many chickens who had been dancing in tall grass so that his people could eat.
Later, the chicken came to the warrior in his dream. “Why did you kill me? I was in the middle of a sacred dance for my nation,” the chicken said, to which the warrior explained his people’s hunger and apologized. The chicken accepted the apology and proceeded to teach the warrior about chickens’ sacred dance.
The ceremony ended with SLCC’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps raising the American flag and presenting its colors to all in attendance. Comprising the guard were officers Ramiro Noreiga, Efren Pardes, Seth Noon and Jimmy White.
After the ceremony concluded, attendees were welcomed to enjoy refreshments in the Veterans Services office located at the bottom level of the Student Center. Steve Hill, director of Veterans Services, wants veterans to know that their office is always available to help.
“As you can tell from our guest speakers, we believe that the veterans center is a community as a whole,” Hill said. “Our belief is [that] semester plus semester equals graduation, and we are here to help as best we can.”
For more information about Veterans Services, visit slcc.edu/veterans.