The events of September 11, 2001 undoubtedly changed the lives of Americans across the country. But the rubble of the Twin Towers has long been cleared, Freedom Tower now in their place, and most Americans have returned largely to the same lives they led before the attacks.

Men and women of the United States military haven’t had this option. These men and women continue to volunteer to fight an enemy thousands of miles from home.

Wearing a specific colored shirt might seem like a trivial act, but the meaning behind it is significant. It translates to mean that as you prepared for your day, you recognized that others are playing an active role to allow you to go to work or class with relative peace of mind that you are safe.

The relatively normal lives we take for granted is a testament to the incredible job they’ve done to protect our quality of life. But we owe it to each of them to better understand the struggles they face not only in combat, but when they return home.

Wearing a specific colored shirt might seem like a trivial act, but the meaning behind it is significant. It translates to mean that as you prepared for your day, you recognized that others are playing an active role to allow you to go to work or class with relative peace of mind that you are safe.

That’s why I’m so proud of a new initiative here at Mansfield University to actively honor everyone serving overseas.

Cecil Cooper, a student in the Department of Geosciences and Army veteran who served deployments to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91 and Operation Desert Strike in 1996, knows all too well the hardships facing those currently deployed. His initiative, and the subsequent support from the Student Government Association has led to the creation of R.E.D. Fridays, as an opportunity to show support to our military.

R.E.D. (Remember Everyone Deployed) Fridays asks everyone to wear the color red to let our servicemen and servicewomen know that we have not forgotten them, and that we appreciate their sacrifice for the country.

The program began on April 3, as hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered together on campus to launch the awareness campaign but the ultimate mission is a lasting tradition that becomes engrained into the Mansfield community.

Cooper believes, “This movement is focused on the support of the troops and their families and their sacrifices during deployments. With the wearing of red attire on R.E.D. Friday, it’s a common and unified acknowledgement of our service members to let them all know that we have not forgotten them and appreciate their sacrifice to our country.”

Threats to our security are more diverse today than ever before, and to combat these dangers requires the combined effort of our active and reserve components.

Today, mothers and fathers in the reserves and National Guard join their Active Duty counterparts on the front lines. Many have served several deployments. All have put careers, families and their entire lives on hold in order to serve their country.

President Obama announced recently that he planned to slow the timeline for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, meaning boots on the ground will remain at least through 2016, more than 15 years after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom began on Oct. 7, 2001.

To the thousands of men and women who served, Operation Enduring Freedom was not simply a story on the news, and it will not simply be a chapter in a history book. Americans everywhere must fight the temptation to relegate their sacrifices to the same fate, by actively remembering the cost behind each deployment.

Wearing a specific colored shirt might seem like a trivial act, but the meaning behind it is significant. It translates to mean that as you prepared for your day, you recognized that others are playing an active role to allow you to go to work or class with relative peace of mind that you are safe.

Our service members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days per week, 52 weeks per year. They willingly ensure our safety and freedom.

In recognition of their sacrifices, it is my hope that you will consider joining the Mansfield University community to wear red on Fridays.  Be it at your home, school, place of business; members of our military deserve our support.  Let’s wear red and make it a point to Remember Everyone Deployed.

Brigadier General Francis L. Hendricks (ret.) is president of Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania.