Echo Taps policy changed for both lifestyles

For three decades Norwich University has honored students of both lifestyles who have passed away with the military ceremony Echo Taps. As of this year there will be a Civilian Remembrance Ceremony (CRC) in order to “serve the same purpose,” according to the Assistant Dean of Students, Ryan Johnson.

“We just want something that’s respectful to both lifestyles and all of our students,” said NU BuglerJohnson. The civilian ceremony will be held on the Upper Parade Ground where Echo Taps is currently done, he said.

The ceremony will feature Amazing Grace played a member of the NU Pipe Band instead of Echo Taps, which is played by two buglers. Both ceremonies will have people gather at the steps of Jackman Hall at 2150 for a 2200 (10 p.m.) ceremony and all barracks lights, on the Parade Ground side, will be shut off, according to the policy draft.

The family of the student, alumni, or faculty member will be presented with an American flag if present at the service. Anyone not in uniform will be required to follow the Norwich dress code, civilian students will wear business casual or business attire for special occasions when so announced, as stated on the Norwich website.

There is also a third component in the upcoming policy called a “Norwich University Remembrance Ceremony.” In this case Echo Taps and Amazing Grace are both played in honor of major local, national, or international event that has affected the university, such as September 11.

Although Echo Taps is a ³mandatory formation for all cadets,” both lifestyles are “encouraged to participate” in each ceremony, according to the policy. A ceremony can be requested for a student currently enrolled or on a bonafide leave of absence,” alumni killed in the line of duty, faculty members, or ³others as approved by the President.

A service must be requested by a student or faculty member and passed to the Regimental Commander if for Echo Taps or the senior resident coordinator for a Civilian Remembrance Ceremony. The Regimental Commander would then go straight to the president, whereas the senior resident coordinator would go with the dean of students to the president for approval.

According to The Cadet Handbook (2013), which is given to all corps student, the university assembled for their first Echo Taps in 1983, following the suicide bombings of U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, and again in 1984 for “three members of the NU Fire Brigade,” who died in an accident.

Since 1983, there was an unwritten policy until ³”he President’s policy came out a couple years ago and it’s more general,” said Col. Russell Holden, NU commandant of cadets, adding that “it didn¹t really govern how (Echo Taps) was done.”

The policy is being updated now because “over the years we try to do everything better and we always work on the rules and regulations, so that everybody knows why something is done, how to request it and what to expect when it’s done,” Holden said.

“The collaboration between the two lifestyles was phenomenal and really what were trying to get here,” Holden said regarding the campus leaderships joint work on the policy.

Both the civilian and corps leaders involved put their best effort into thoroughly establishing the drafted policy Holden said. As an example of their collaboration, the student leaders had decided themselves to make the Norwich Remembrance Ceremony for special circumstances, he said.

Some students also see the value in the lifestyles collaborating on this kind of issue. “With the whole civilian and corps gap kind of thing, I think this is a cool way to try and bridge that gap,” said Aaron McDuffie, 19, a sophomore studies of war and peace major from Buffalo, New York.

According to Dr. Frank Vanecek, NU vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, it was Holden who had originally noted the error in having only one policy for two lifestyles. He modified the president’s policy himself and discussed it with Vanecek. Together they met with the president to revise the Echo Taps policy.

After bringing the changes to the president¹s attention, the modifications were brought to the students for their ideas and opinions. Holden worked with the corps student leaders while Johnson worked with the civilian student leaders, according to Vanecek.

The corps student leaders were from the regimental staff and one representative from each battalion, according to Johnson, as well as Residential life staff on behalf of the civilian student body.

Holden says that he does not believe the students of either lifestyle would be disrespectful of any of the ceremonies. “I think the campus is very respectful, especially in a case like this. I don’t perceive anything like that happening,” he said.

McDuffie says the students will participate because it is “a school thing. It’s the Norwich bond everybody has.” According to him, it does not matter if the person who passed away was in the corps or a civilian or which ceremony the deceased was given because, in the end, “we all went to the same school.”

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