Simpson community holds ceremony to honor veterans


by Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor [email protected]

In a moving tribute filled with patriotic melodies, touching testimonies and what seemed to be God’s almighty hand upon attendees, the Simpson community celebrated veterans during a special ceremony on Nov. 4 in Smith Chapel.

The ceremony began with Irving Elementary fifth-graders singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” led by choir director Kiersten Johnson.

President of Simpson College Jay Simmons made the opening remarks, saying, “To our veterans: Many, many thanks to all of you on behalf of your service.”

This year’s ceremony showcased veterans who attend or have attended Simpson College, discussing the meaning of service to their country.

The first speaker, 1st Lt. Chris Krusemark, was adamant in his faith in God and love for the United States.

KIRKPATRICK Chris Krusemark(Photo: Alex Kirkpatrick/The Simpsonian)

Reminding the audience of 9/11, Krusemark said, “Our veterans did not serve in order to take away something for themselves. They served so we could see tomorrow.”

“In a veteran’s heart and mind, their service for the red, white and blue never stops,” he said.

The next speaker joined the Air Force after graduating Remsen-St. Mary’s High School in 2010.

KIRKPATRICK Stacie Ahlers(Photo: Alex Kirkpatrick/The Simpsonian)

Describing the military as the best experience in her life, Stacie Ahlers also shared intimate details and the sacrifices she’s made to serve America.

“When I got out, I felt like no one understood me,” Ahlers said.

She thanked the members of the cross country team for being her rock in troubled waters.

At a turning point in her speech, Ahlers mentioned her boyfriend, a veteran of the Marine Corps, who passed away earlier this year. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“His main thing was that he enjoyed helping people,” said Ahlers in a Sept. 23 article published in The Simpsonian. “That was his biggest attribute and that’s why I’ve continued to run. I thought about quitting after he passed. I didn’t want to continue with it. But I knew he wouldn’t want that, so I continue to run for him. I told myself from day one that all my races will be in dedication to him for the fact that he was there for me.”

Ahlers concluded by encouraging anyone interested to join the military.

Veterans Day officially became a U.S. holiday 12 years after Armistice Day — when the fighting between the Allies and Germany stopped during World War I.

The fall edition of The Simpson Magazine honors veterans and features people such as assistant professor of accounting Shane Cox, who organized the ceremony, and Simpson alumna Kristina Kelehan, who was deployed to Kosovo as part of the Iowa Army National Guard.

Simpson traces its roots to serving veterans back to the Civil War, claiming, “the newly formed Confederate States Army attacked Fort Sumter, and the American Civil War had begun, but on campus as elsewhere in the North it was known as the War of the Rebellion.”

A newly-hired veterans recruitment coordinator was hired to manage the recruitment of veterans, currently-serving military personnel and military family members interested in Simpson College.

Jason Courtney, a 2010 graduate of Simpson College, will assist in developing and implementing a comprehensive recruitment plan.

For those interested in veterans benefits at Simpson, go to