The Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity invited two World War II veterans to its home Sunday to show gratitude for their service.
Tom Santarsiero, 89, and Frank Towers, 97, were welcomed to the fraternity house to share their stories, although Towers was unable to attend.
The Phi Mu Sorority hosted the men two weeks ago, and the house father, Don Gaddo, reached out to the Greek community for further support, wrote Brian Joy, a UF political science senior and at-large member of Lambda Chi Alpha, in an email.
Joy said Gaddo asked him if there was anything he and the brothers could do to recognize the gentleman for their services.
The brothers invited both Santarsiero and Towers to a private ceremony.
Towers was preparing for surgery and couldn’t attend.
At the ceremony, Santarsiero addressed the chapter and shared what it was like becoming a man in the face of war.
“Our goal was to recognize these veterans for their services, show our appreciation for the sacrifices they have made and to help bridge our two generations together,” Joy, 21, said.
Dylan Sutton, a UF environmental engineering senior and the Lambda Chi Alpha alumni relations chair, wrote in an email that it was awe-inspiring to meet Santarsiero and hear what he went through.
“He did not have the privileges that we take for granted today, so at the age of 18, he was sent off into a death trap,” Sutton, 21, said. “The fact that he survived is beyond a miracle, and we are so honored to honorarily initiate him and let him into our bond.”
Joy said that the veterans have not been initiated as honorary brothers yet, and they are currently working with the national Lambda Chi Alpha organization to make it possible.
“By taking the time to learn their experiences and share your stories with them, there is so much opportunity to grow as men and truly appreciate what we have,” Sutton said.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 1/27/2015 under the headline “Fraternity honors war veterans, inducts them into brotherhood"]