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TEMPE -- Salute to Service at Arizona State University will move forward this year with virtual events planned from though Nov. 19, including a concert by multiplatinum-selling alternative rock band the Gin Blossoms.

Made internationally famous by their hit song “Hey Jealousy,” Tempe’s own Gin Blossoms will perform Nov. 8 for a virtual audience across the U.S. and overseas.

“The most significant change this year is our signature event will be a virtual concert with the Gin Blossoms, instead of the traditional football game experience,” said Jeff Guimarin, director of veteran services and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. “This concert will be broadcast live and free of cost to viewers around the world.”

In years past, Salute to Service featured in-person gatherings, community events and larger forums to celebrate and recognize service. This year’s celebration will go virtual because of COVID-19. Moving forward with the event in the midst of the pandemic provides a great opportunity for the university, Guimarin said.

“One reason is we need to seek out and embrace uplifting stories to show how Sun Devils excel in challenging and complex times,” Guimarin said. “These stories should inspire others to emulate the acts of those who have gone above and beyond to serve the community.”

The virtual aspect of this year’s event means that unlike previous years the celebration will reach Sun Devils beyond Phoenix. This includes online students and alumni who are out of state, or even halfway across the world.

“We’re hoping to catch the interest of Sun Devils in many places, as well as anyone else who wants to watch a great tribute to the selfless acts of our students, staff, faculty and alumni,” Guimarin said.

Online students are scattered throughout the country and the globe, Guimarin said. Military students are logging on from Europe (Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and other countries), the Pacific (mainly Korea and Japan), South America and the Middle East.

ASU’s military-affiliated student population — veterans, active duty, Guard, Reserves and family members — has risen sharply to 10,500, with nearly 70% attending solely through ASU Online.

“When we can open up more apertures, availability and opportunities for the online side, it will really help build that community,” Guimarin said. “This kind of event can help accentuate it by giving them a chance to be a part of it.”

While Salute to Service is rooted in recognizing those with military ties, the event is expanding to include everyone who serves the community in some capacity. This year’s theme “service through leadership, mentorship, education, innovation and medical care,” captures the new approach.

“Yes, the Salute to Service theme has evolved,” Guimarin said. “This year we wanted to be more inclusive of those who continue to demonstrate service above self in their everyday lives, across a variety of areas. This includes the teachers, first responders, nurses, doctors, researchers, leaders and mentors who dedicate so much of their profession to serve others and create positive impact on a grand scale.”

Organizers encourage the ASU community, locally and online, to get involved in Salute to Service. It can be an enriching experience with long-lasting impact for everyone.

“First and foremost, we hope they feel a strong sense of community from getting to know some of the Sun Devils who are out there, making a big difference,” said Guimarin, who is a former Air Force colonel. “Also, we want to inspire them to do the same. Lastly, we hope to get participants to reflect inwards and think about the sacrifices others make to ensure our safety, freedoms and way of life.

“Ideally, this will drive more empathy in our society, which helps build trust and collaboration.”

The Gin Blossoms concert will honor the Sun Devil Community and feature a variety of recognition activities highlighting selfless service by students, faculty and staff along the lines of this year’s theme. The broadcast will be available via various digital platforms, such as YouTube, Zoom and others.

Other planned events include a 5K virtual fun run, Nov. 10; a virtual talent show, Nov. 12 and 13; a discussion on the future of energy, Nov. 10; virtual mock job interviews for job seekers, Nov. 12; and many others. Visit the Salute to Service homepage for the latest information and a complete schedule of events.

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