The Nebraska State Capitol glowed green for Veteran’s Day, just after 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
People in cars passing by honked to pay their respects, and veterans observed the event from their cars.
Victoria Garza, a Lincoln native and active duty Senior Airman in the Air Force, heard about the event from a friend.
“I think it’s awesome. I know that we have a lot of veterans and people who’ve served in our system in Lincoln. So it’s a good way to honor them,” she said. “And especially during COVID, when we can’t have any big gatherings. I feel like that’s the perfect way to celebrate it and show everyone the support.”
Garza, 23, lives at Hickam Air Force Base in Oahu, Hawaii, and works as an intelligence analyst.
Other veterans said the lighting of the Capitol is more symbolic.
Jay Nutter of Weeping Water is a member of the Army National Guard and served in the Iraq war from 2005 to 2007.
“It’s cool that they do things like that. But, you know, it’s a little thing,” Nutter said. “I don’t want to say that it’s not important or significant, but, you know, it’s just very symbolic.”
Nutter lives in Panama with his wife, Laura, and works as a medical laboratory technician.
“It is simply recognition of service to anyone who has served home or abroad, at peacetime or war, the fact that they put on a uniform, and knowing that there was always the potential to be put in harm’s way,” he said. “So that recognition of that service, I think, is important for all veterans, men, women, everybody.”
Bryce Hansen of Nehawka reminisced on his time in the Air Force during the Vietnam War as he looked at the Capitol.
“I don’t really know how to express it,” he said about Veteran’s Day. “It’s really sad in some ways, and it’s good in other ways. I know some people that went right out of high school just got maimed and killed.”
He shared a story of a friend from his hometown that was a helicopter pilot, who died in the barracks from a raid.
“It was sad,” he said. “I was lucky not to be there.”
Hansen is now partially retired and farms with his wife, Jan, in Weeping Water.
The Nebraska State Capitol continues to be lit up for events ever since it began when Mike Johanns was in office in the early 2000s. Some of those events included Purple Heart Day, World Autism Awareness Day, and World AIDS Day.
After the first time the Capitol was lit for breast cancer awareness, the requests to light it for other occasions started to come in from a variety of sources.
“We received requests from other nonprofit, not for profit, statewide in scope or larger groups to light the capitol different colors for Women’s Heart Health Month, pancreatic cancer awareness, March of Dimes, or prematurity awareness – many different things,” said Roxanne Smith, the tourism supervisor for the Nebraska State Capitol.
They received so many requests that they put together a policy that only allowed the capitol to be lit four times a year.
“Gov. Ricketts has requested that we light the capitol green to honor veterans, every Veteran’s Day since his administration,” Smith said.
The lightings for 2021 are already scheduled and will be as follows: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Gastroschisis Awareness Day on July 30, World Alzheimer’s Day on Sept. 21 and for Red Ribbon Week from Oct. 23 to 31.
To apply to have your nonprofit cause honored in 2022, contact the Tourism/Special Events office at (402) 471-0449.