Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration

Twenty-one communication studies and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., in January 2013 as part of the Meadows School of the Arts’ Hilltop on the Hill program. In addition to reporting on Inaugural events, the students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies; Daniel Schill, assistant professor of communication studies, and Carolyn Barta, journalism professor. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions and the G8 Economic Summit.

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A tribute to our military veterans

An update from Blake, a finance and economics major and communication studies minor.

Lynyrd Skynyrd honored U.S. military veterans at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, just blocks from our nation’s Capitol building. With chart-topping Southern rock classics like “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Freebird,” the event drew an eager crowd of decorated men and women of all ages and ranks.

In observing the interactions between veterans, it became evident that our brave military operates as one large, respectful family. At a beautiful reception in the theatre’s lobby, various branches shared stories over cocktails and appetizers, lifting spirits among veterans joining in celebration of the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

Made possible by a donor, four SMU students received tickets because of our own military veteran, Sergeant Santiago Martinez of the United States Marine Corps, a communication studies major at SMU.

The awards ceremony leading up to Skynyrd’s live music performance was one of emotional recognition for the brave men and women who have sacrificed a substantial portion of their lives to defending our civil liberties here at home. With CNN News covering the action, family members of fallen heroes received awards. A gentleman named PJ accepted an award on behalf of his brother Jason for the helicopter rescue by Navy Seal Team 6 on August 6, 2011, stating “We are free because of our brave.”

Another group of veterans – unsettled by the loss of detailed history in battle – found the inspiration to create a documentary called “The Hornet’s Nest” with the help of ABC News. The group is determined to capture real-time stories of warfront battles so that the facts of history are solidified. The documentaries will ensure no one is ever left behind in the U.S. Marines. The documentary maker said the battle is not just fought on the battlefield, but also back at home as Marines struggle with life after their tours.

Twenty-seven Tuskegee Airmen from WWII were honored for their courage and bravery in the face of discrimination and race wars.

Shortly following the awards and recognition, Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage for a passionate and appreciative concert by a patriotic band. Looking to give back to military veterans, the band refused to accept commission for the performance.

Following their service on land, in the air, or at sea, veterans carry on a legacy by commemorating their fellow fallen soldiers in their own unique ways.

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