» By TIFFANY HALL – firstname.lastname@example.org
“Fallen Soldier Table” was set up in the UC lobby on Wednesday, Oct. 5, and Thursday, Oct. 6, in remembrance of 2nd Lt. Richard Torres, the first APSU alumni to be killed in action while serving in Iraq.
Torres was a 2002 ROTC graduate. In 2003, he deployed overseas and was killed by an improvised explosive device on Oct. 6, 2003.
The tradition of setting up a table in his honor began last year. The Student Veterans Association came together for the idea to keep Torres’s memory alive on campus.
On the table, a book was placed for people to sign, which will be given to Torres’s son and family. Anyone who walks by is free to sign it.
Inside are messages of hope and thanks for the family and their sacrifice. The messages are meant to show APSU and the Clarksville community care, and that APSU will remember Torres not only as a soldier, but as one of its own.
Last year, Torres’s son was in attendance at the first Fallen Soldier table and was a part of the ceremony.
This year, after the booth is torn down, he will be given the book as part of the memorial.
Next to the book, was a smaller table, set for one. A portrait of Torres in uniform was displayed, and below his portrait sat a plate, glass and silverware.
“This table is set up to bring awareness to Torres’s death. He chose to be this driven person, who graduated from college first, and then go overseas. He is the first APSU Alumni that we know of, that has died in combat,” said Kristen Cotton, a member of the Student Veterans Association.
“Most people do it the other way around. Most people who go into the military or army, they finish their terms and come home. After a few months or so, a lot of people then decide to go to college and get a degree. He decided his education was more important,” Cotton said.
Cotton was an active duty member in the military and sees Torres as a role model and inspiration.
“I feel like this was the least I could do. Manning this booth makes me feel like a part of something bigger,” Cotton said.
She wishes more people knew his story because it affects everyone who is a member of APSU.
“It has an effect knowing that he was a student here at APSU. This wasn’t just a student at a different school. He was here, he walked this campus [and] he graduated from here. That really brings it home,” Cotton said.
“We wanted everyone to know about him and his life. Not just students who are active military, but everyday students. He really was an inspiration for everyone, and this is our way of saying thanks.” TAS