University of Iowa veterans to stand out in Hawaiian shirts on Veterans Day

'We are not grieving Veterans Day, but celebrating it'

On most days, the University of Iowa’s more than 800 student, faculty and staff veterans blend in on campus. On Monday, they’ll definitely stand out.

As part of a new UI initiative called Veteran Vitality, the university is hosting a full day of events to celebrate Veterans Day – including inviting service members to don free neon-hued Hawaiian shirts.

“We are not grieving Veterans Day, but celebrating it,” said Larry Lockwood, UI registrar and assistant provost for enrollment services and a Vietnam War veteran.

By recognizing veterans with a day of campus-wide events and the shirt giveaway, UI military and veteran education specialist Allen Roberts said the UI is “flipping the traditionally somber tone of Veterans Day on its head and returning to its original upbeat, celebratory feel.”

A “Veteran Vitality kickoff” will start the day’s events at 11 a.m. Monday on the west side of the UI Pentacrest and include a 6,000-flag display, guest speakers and a presentation of the Color Guard. The programming – a collaboration between the UI’s Military and Veteran Student Services and the UI Veterans Association – also will include a series of 10 panels and a luau.

Each of the 6,000 flags will be dedicated by someone in the community and include the name of a veteran – living or dead.

The 10 panel discussions will take place in the Big Ten rooms on the third floor of the Iowa Memorial Union from noon to 3 p.m. and will cover a range of veteran-related topics. From “LGBTQ-identified individuals in the military” to an educational benefits session or career development and preparation panel, the discussions will cater to both veterans and members of the public, according to UI news services.

The day will cap with a luau for UI-affiliated veterans and their family members from 4 to 6 p.m. at Brothers Bar & Grill, 125 S Dubuque St.

Veterans also are being honored Sunday at the Hawkeye basketball double-header.For more information and a schedule of events, visit the UI Veterans Day website.