Veteran’s Day Service Held In Honor of Kristensen ’91

In a Veteran’s Day ceremony last Friday, the Andover community honored Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander Erik Kristensen ’91, who was killed in Afghanistan last June. Over 100 people attended the service held at the Memorial Place monument. Lt. Cr. Kristensen was one of 16 servicemen killed on June 28 when his helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission. His is the first name to be added to the memorial wall since its dedication in 1994. During the ceremony, Head of School Barbara Landis Chase said, “I said a silent prayer to myself that we would never have to engrave another name on this memorial. That prayer was not answered.” Members of the Kristensen family attended the ceremony and placed a wreath in front of his plaque on the Memorial. Friends and former teachers offered condolences to the family before the ceremony and attended a special luncheon in Ropes Salon following the service. Lt. Cr. Kristensen attended Phillips Academy as a postgraduate from 1990-91. He played lacrosse and rowed crews at Andover. Speaking at the service, Lt. Cr. Kristensen’s cousin Allison Cassin said, “Erik was a man who lived by always learning and who died by placing the well-being of all of us, of our country, ahead of himself.” Lt. Cr. Kristensen’s mother, Suzanne, said, “[Erik] really did have it all… but [his life] didn’t last.” “The family was extremely moved,” said Protestant Chaplain and Director of Alumni Affiars Michael Ebner. “[Ms. Cassin] especially wanted the service to be special for Phillips and spoke about Erik’s embodiment of ‘Non Sibi’ and ‘Finis Origine Pendet.’… [The family] really appreciated that we were doing this much to accommodate them.” Though focused on commemorating Lt. Cr. Kristensen, the service also honored all Andover alumni who have lost their lives in military service since World War II. To allow students and faculty to attend the ceremony, Dean’s Council removed Friday’s Advising Period and shortened classes to 40 minutes each. Every student and faculty member had no classes from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., the period in which the service was held. “The special circumstances of Kristensen’s death made the schedule change an important step. In the past, only people who didn’t have classes were able to attend,” said Rev. Ebner. “We had invited the [Kristensen] family to our service, and they said two weeks ago that they could attend… so we informed the Dean’s Council, [who] immediately decided to change the schedule.” He continued, “It’s a wonderful change, and something we hope [the Dean’s Council] will make permanent.” Despite the scheduled time allotted for the ceremony, attendance was not mandatory. “We wouldn’t require students to attend because the reflection has to be personal, but we felt an obligation to make [this service] available to everyone, and we just hope and ask people to do what they can to reflect,” said Rev. Ebner. The speakers at the ceremony included Head of School Barbara Landis Chase, Rev. Ebner, Catholic Chaplain Francisco Nahoe, and Lt. Cr. Kristensen’s cousin Allison Cassin. “Veteran’s Day is really a holiday that unites people in thought. From the veteran to the protester, it makes you stop and see what devastation war can bring,” said Rev. Ebner.