As a Purdue junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences fiddled with her empty cup of water, she thought back to something she had since blocked out of her mind.
Bria Cooley’s friend Brad Babcock, a junior in the College of Engineering, committed suicide this past December.
“It’s kind of surreal since it happened last semester and it’s being brought up again,” Cooley said.
Cooley revisited the death of her friend at Golden Taps, a ceremony held annually to remember and honor Purdue students that have died in the past year. Families as well as friends come and talk about their lost loved ones.
Babcock’s father, Don Babcock, said his son walked in front of a train.
“I was just here on campus with him in August,” Babcock said. “If you have friends who are upset or you notice a mood change, help them.”
Babcock informed his son’s friends about Golden Taps on Brad’s Facebook wall and was nervous no one would show up. Shortly after his comment, 12 students that knew Brad walked in, one of them being Cooley.
“Moments like this remind us life is precious,” Cooley said. “It makes me realize who I’m living for and that my purpose is to glorify God.”
Babcock was one of 13 students honored at the ceremony.
David Feltner was a sophomore in the College of Technology and died from soft-tissue cancer nearly one year ago. Members of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, gathered at Golden Taps to celebrate his memory.
Rob Lampert, a senior in the College of Technology and fellow fraternity brother of Feltner, said attending the event to remember Feltner gives him and his fraternity brothers closure.
“He’s never going to be forgotten,” Lampert said. “Dave’s suffering is finally put to rest, which is a relief.”
Pi Kappa Phi has had other memorials and events in Feltner’s name, but had not experienced Golden Taps before.
“It’s good to see everyone else here,” Lampert said. “We keep Dave and his family in our thoughts and prayers,”
To honor the students, drummers and trumpeters from Purdue bands played, the Purdue Student Union Board illuminated candles for each deceased student and president France Córdova presented family members with a certificate of remembrance in addition to an Unfinished Block P replica.
The Purduettes sang a Purdue hymn at the event as well. Colette Pfeiffer, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, said it was her third year performing and it continues to be a humbling experience for the Purduettes.
“We’ve been celebrating the end of the year and it’s nice to honor those of us who don’t get to celebrate it,” Pfeiffer said.