Honoring the deceased

The university ROTC members present a flag of colors during the "Golden Silence" in remembrance of the alumni, faculty and staff lost during the past year. The ceremony of candles and silence is organized annually by the Alumnim Association. Prakriti Adhikari/The Lion's Roar

Members of the community gathered together at the Pottle Performance Circle for a ceremony to honor the alumni, faculty and staff lost during the past year.

Themed “In loving memory of those who have gone before us,” “Golden Silence” was organized by the Alumni Association on April 9 at 6 p.m. in memory of 352 deceased Lions. Family members of the lost members attended.

The ceremony began with an introduction by University President Dr. John L. Crain, which was followed by the memorial roll call and candle lighting by Crain, President of the Alumni Association Board of Directors Brad Stevens and President of Student Government Association Seth Leto.

During the event, Crain explained the reason behind organizing the ceremony annually.

“We take this opportunity every year to pause for a few minutes of our hectic lives and to formally honor and remember those members of the Southeastern family who passed away this last year,” said Crain. 

During the memorial roll call, all 352 names were called out by Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Alicia Kay Maurin, Vice President for Administration and Finance Sam Domiano, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Eric Summers, Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale, Stevens and Executive Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Biggs.

Biggs shared her experience of being thanked by the family members for organizing the memorial.

“We’re all about traditions here at Southeastern, and we wanna make sure that we maintain the traditions that mean so much to our Southeastern family,” said Biggs. “We have so many phone calls from family members who are just so grateful that we are honoring their loved ones, and I think it’s important that they know we want to remember these people and we don’t want to forget about them.”

The environment was solemn, and some members also had wet eyes as participating members lit their candles in memory of the lost.

Towards the end of the ceremony, a flag of colors was presented by the university ROTC members. Taps were led by graduate student in music Kiersten Jonkman, and the alma mater was sung by junior music major Elizabeth Langley. After the program, family members were also handed souvenirs marking the “Golden Silence.”

Crain spoke about how the ceremony preserved the tradition of the university.

“Southeastern has always been known for fostering the strong family atmosphere among our students, faculty and staff,” said Crain. “One of our core values is caring. It’s one of those things that set us apart from many other institutions, and like any other family, we hurt, and we suffer when we lose one of our members. So, every year we gather to remember our friends and our loved ones we’ve lost those whose lives we honor tonight across this path and walked these grounds just like we all do so often.”

Crain thinks memories of the departed members help minimize the pain.

“We can take some comfort that our loved ones live on in our memories,” said Crain. “It is the memories that help us move though the initial grief we experience from loss and are the memories that sustain in us.”