In recognition of Memorial Day on Monday, May 26, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences is running a two-part series to honor, remember, and celebrate the men and women who have served in the armed forces. We recently interviewed United States Marine Corps Veteran and ASU New College student, Ezekiel (Zeke) Reed, to learn about his experience during his time in the Marines and at New College.
When did you begin school at ASU New College?
Zeke: I started during the fall of 2010.
What are you studying at ASU New College?
Zeke: Political Science, with a minor in Recreation Management.
What are you future career goals?
Zeke: To love what I do. If I do nothing other than enjoy the work that I do each day, I will be a pretty stoked guy.
What branch of the military were you a member of?
Zeke: I was in the United States Marine Corps.
When were you enlisted?
Zeke: I was enlisted from 2003-2008.
Where did you serve?
Zeke: I was with the 1st Marine Division stationed at beautiful Camp Pendleton in southern California. I was forward deployed to a few places including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Bangladesh, and even Gulfport Mississippi, where I helped support the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
What does Memorial Day mean to you?
Zeke: I’m from a very small town in upstate New York that has a large military presence. From World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Siege of Beirut, the first Gulf War, and Somalia conflict, veterans have been a large part of the community, and sadly, our grave yards are filled with military headstones. Memorial Day has always been a very big deal in my town. There is a free pancake breakfast at the local American Legion for the old-timers, a big parade through downtown, and a social at the local VFW. During my childhood I knew that Memorial Day was important because everyone told me it was. I repeated what others would say about the honor and respect of the military, but I didn’t completely understand the meaning until I had my own experience.
By this time I had been in the Marine Corps for a few years, I had dealt with losing folks to the Iraq war, but on May 4, 2006 it hit close to home. I lost one of my best childhood friends, Eli, to an IED. In the weeks following the funeral and all of the sadness that accompanies such somber event, I decided to make a phone call to Eli’s parents on Memorial Day to see how they were coping. During that conversation I was surprised at how happy his father sounded. And, I’ll never forget what he told me they were doing—having a party. For Eli’s family and now for me, Memorial Day is as much about the celebration of our lives as it is about remembering those we have lost and their sacrifice. I believe we need to enjoy each day we are given, as it validates their sacrifice.
Describing what Memorial Day means to me would be like attempting to describe a Picasso in words, and I lack that vocabulary. So, like every other Memorial Day for the last eight years, I will not sadden those around me by talking about the heroic deaths of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Instead, I will talk about the lives of those who have made that sacrifice, and I will definitely tell some hilarious stories to Eli, my youngest son, about his namesake and a hero I wish he could have met.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about your time in the military or your experience at ASU New College?
Zeke: Just that I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky to go to school that is so military and veteran friendly. ASU’s Veteran’s Assistance Office is staffed by some spectacular people who have been extremely helpful. I’m lucky to have come to ASU at a time where I have been a part of the Student Veterans Organization take off at the West Campus. I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful people here at ASU and especially in New College. From the professional staff to professors, my interactions with many of them have enriched my life in ways I had not expected.