To the Editor: We’ve heard the criticism. A disorganized, baseless Memorial Day protest occurred this past week that was fueled largely by those who simply wished to cut class. Hopefully, by the end of this letter, frustrated members of the community can gain some understanding of what we tried to accomplish on Monday, May 25.
Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States, designed to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces. Andover has lost 244 of its alumni in combat, and a myriad of other current students have family members and friends who are either serving or have served in the Armed Forces.
Frustrated by what we saw as a lack of recognition for this national holiday, multiple members of the Class of 2017 initiated a conversation on Facebook, and after receiving widespread support, decided to transition conversation into action.
We readily acknowledge that this protest was disorganized, and we regret the lack of communication between the student body and the faculty. To suggest that the morals behind this protest were faulty, however, is unempathetic.
While we recognize that there were some among the protest who partially delegitimized our cause – lounging in lawn chairs while listening to country music – this minority does not and should not represent all that this protest stood for.
Most of those who boycotted classes on Monday legitimately fought for further recognition of and mourning for lost veterans. We handed out flyers with proposed ideas for a “day on,” in which we had special programming such as trips to Veteran’s Hospitals, potentially bringing in an All-School Meeting Speaker and sending care packages to the family members of soldiers on active duty. These are just some of the ideas we have considered, and we are open to any and all suggestions.
The goal is a day of remembrance, a day of commemoration. It is impossible to understand fully the sacrifice that these individuals make for their country every day so that we might attend a school such as Andover. A debt is owed to these brave members of the military, to remember their actions and combat and make the effort to appreciate what they do.
Even on Monday, despite a select few projecting this air of celebration, we attempted to make steps toward a model for this day in coming years. Many among the protesters shared memories of lost family and friends while standing in front of the Memorial Bell Tower, letters were written to the family members of Andover Alumni who died in combat and the hundred or so protesters on the steps reflected upon what Memorial Day is, means, and why we should have the “day on.”
Just an hour after the protest had ended, we continued to take steps toward further recognition. We met with Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life and Co-President David Gutierrez ’15 to discuss potential ideas for the coming years, such as a Memorial Day committee.
We would also like to acknowledge the work of Reverend Anne Gardner, an individual who is rarely thanked for all she does behind the scenes in her capacity as Director of Spiritual and Religious Life. We admire her dedication to remembering Andover veterans.
Reverend Gardner, however, has worked alone for far too long. We must join her and collaborate to bring awareness of the sacrifice of American veterans to this campus.
Unfortunately, the actions of a few stood as representation of the broader protest, and we cannot emphasize enough that this was not fueled by an ambition to skip classes, but rather to remember the fallen.
We respectfully ask all members of campus to acknowledge the purpose behind our actions on Monday. We encourage you all to unite and help make progress so that in time, we might see this national holiday as a “day on” at Andover.
Sincerely, Howard Johnson ’17 Keegan Cummings ’17 Andrew Reavis ’17 William Nuga ’17 Henry Meyerrose ’17
Signatories: Ellie Blum ’15 David Gutierrez ’15 Kailash Sundaram ’15 Brandon Barros ’17 Mika Curran ’17 Nikki Dlesk ’17 Wilbert Garcia ’17 Rohan Lewis ’17