Flag recognizes military service

Toby Uecker

Toby Uecker

Anyone taking glance at the front of the Administration Building recently can notice a simple but colorful addition to the historic architecture of the stone building.

That addition comes in the form of a service flag designed by a long-time friend of the university to honor SDSU students and faculty called away from campus for military service.

The flag, white with a red border and several blue stars, is draped over the balcony directly over the building’s main entrance, a reminder to campus residents and visitors of the university’s ongoing commitment to military defense.

Though new to eyes of current students and faculty, the flag is modeled from one that hung in the same location three quarters of a century ago.

The first service flag hung over the entry way during WWI, a time when over 200 SDSU students were serving in the military.

Shortly before the war in Iraq officially began, administrators were looking for a way to recognize the students and faculty members serving in the military.

“You start to think immediately of something done in the past that’s appropriate,” said V.J. Smith, Alumni Center Director and one of the people behind the initiation of the project.

Smith ran across a picture of the original service flag in a yearbook and decided to use a similar method to honor current servicemen.

“It seemed appropriate,” he said.

With that idea in mind, Smith and University President Peggy Miller, along with other university officials, took their plan to Kathy Larsen, a friend of the university who had done several other service projects for SDSU.

Larsen said that the tradition of a service flag began in WWI with emblems like the one in the old yearbook. She said that families with children in the armed forces would display the flags as a reminder of the large number of young people serving in the military.

Larsen looked at the picture from the old yearbook and created her own vision of what the modern service flag should look like.

Larsen chose patriotic colors to create the flag from the black-and-white photograph.

“When I looked at the picture, this is kind of how it looked on the flag,” she said, referring to her own creation.

Smith said that Larson’s creation was even better than he had expected.

“I did not realize how striking (the flag) was until I saw it on Kathy Larsen’s floor,” he said.

Larsen and Smith both say they’ve had others express a similar feeling about the patriotic work of art.

Larsen said that she’s gotten a lot of positive feedback, especially after she received attention in campus and regional publications.

Smith added that many alumni he’s talked to have been pleased at the university’s statement.

“They appreciate the fact that our university remembers,” he said.

He is particularly grateful to Larsen for the work she put into taking the idea from conception to completion.

“Kathy … is a remarkable volunteer, and this is just another example of the great things she’s done for our community,” he said.

But Larsen insists the work was not for her own recognition.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about the people that are serving. … I know a lot of the students and faculty, so it was a really good project for me.”

SDSU Ombudsperson Matt Aschenbrener said that as of Monday, 143 SDSU students had left campus to serve in military operations.

#1.886964:3560076999.jpg:AdminFlag.jpg:A service flag commissioned by SDSU administrators and designed by Kathy Larsen hangs over the entrance to theuniversity?s central Administration Building. The flag is modeled after a WWI display meant to recognize SDSU students and faculty serving in the armed forces.: