The Last Roll Call

Title: The Last Roll Call

Informant info: Informant requested to remain anonymous. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2005 and was a member of the Army Infantry 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York. Informant served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Informant is 28 years old.

Type of lore: Customary, Ceremony

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was interviewed at Dartmouth College. Informant was asked about various ceremonies that they experienced during their time in the military. During this, the informant described a ceremony that honors a soldier that has died in action. After their death, the members of that soldiers platoon or squad go through their roll call. When they get to the name of the deceased, they call their first name, their last name and their rank. After there is silence from no response, the sergeant goes on to explain that this soldier was killed in action and what they were doing. After this, there is a flag ceremony in their honor.

Associated file: Informant requested to remain completely anonymous.

Transcript: [I have recorded the item exactly how it was told to me in the interview]: I don’t know like whenever someone dies, like during their memorial ceremony they do like this roll call. So they’ll like call like a list of names of like… so they’ll have like a company roster or whatever- I forget how they order it- but they’ll… so everyone’s doing their like drill and ceremony… so they’re doing all the formal positioning and movements and things like that. Speaking in like funky voices like Attention! And its like all that parade stuff that you think you know about. And like I don’t know I’ve always found it very uncomfortable because they do this roll call thing whenever someone dies for their memorial and its like they’ll say like a handful of peoples names and they’ll call out present. And then they’ll get to the deceased and obviously he’s not there to be like “here!” (laughs) you know so they just call his name several times and then um they’ll say you know they’ll say his name… they’ll say his full name… they’ll say his full name and rank… and then um they’ll say he’s not here and then they’ll say that he was like killed in action dad a dad a da. They’ll do like the flag ceremony.

Informant’s comments: Informant noted that this ceremony happened a few times while serving. Informant also said that “It’s really horrible its always been really weird. I think is kinda dumb personally but I mean the military is quite traditional.”

Collector’s comments: Informant sat for a few seconds before answering. During the informant’s response, they used a different voice, like that of an Army Lieutenant. I marked this in bold-type font.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *