MANHATTAN (KSNT) – For a moment Wednesday afternoon, all movement stopped in Bosco Plaza outside the Kansas State University student union.
22 pairs of military boots, set up in formation as a makeshift memorial, empty now but still serving a purpose. The only way a group of student veterans could remember one of their own and the 21 other service members who die each day of suicide.
The sound of a lonely bugle call echoed across the concrete plaza remembering Jacob Horton who died on April 2nd. His funeral was Tuesday and now the K-State Veteran Student Organization set up the memorial a day later.
“It hurt me pretty bad,” Derek Cox said about his reaction to Horton’s death. “This is not the first student that’s, obviously, done this but it’s the first veteran student since we’ve been an organization.”
For Cox, the vice president of the group, Horton’s death was a stark reminder of the toll war takes and how important it is for veterans to stick together.
“It was pretty hard to swallow that pull knowing that if one person could have contacted him it could have stopped it,” he said.
Richard Pearson shares Cox’s feelings.
“That brotherhood, that camaraderie is still there,” Pearson said about how close veterans stay after their time in the military. “You could save somebody’s life just by asking them if they’re okay if they’re thinking about suicide.”
Organizers said the boots were meant to represent all branches of the military.