Country and Campus Mourned Together

Members of the Moravian College and Lehigh University ROTC wait to pay their respects to Christopher Seifert in the Old Chapel on April 4. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral in Central Moravian Church the next day.

Express-Times photo: Bill Adams

Moravian College’s loss of one of its own in Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 23 made an impact on the entire nation. Christopher Scott Seifert ’97, a U.S. Army captain serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait, was one of the first American casualties of the Iraq war. He was 27.

President Rokke said, “We’re a small college and a small community, and this is going to be felt. . . . We are proud to count Chris Seifert among Moravian’s alumni, we are grateful for his service, and we are humbled by his sacrifice.”

This tribute was inscribed on a card, designed by Anne Dutlinger, assistant professor of art and chair of the Art Department, that was signed by Moravian students, faculty, and staff, and sent to Chris’s family.

He was married to another Moravian graduate, Theresa L. Flowers ’97, and left a son, Benjamin, who was 4 months old at the time of his father’s death.

Chris was an active member of the Moravian College family. He majored in history, and his advisor, Professor Robert Stinson, remembers him as quiet and respectful, a student who “always had a smile on his face.” As a member of ROTC, he often wore his combat boots and Army fatigues to class, Stinson said. “He was glad that he was in the ROTC program,” he added. “This wasn’t something that he was doing to get some money for school. He thought that it would be a good line of work.”

While at the College, Chris was a founding member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, whose current brothers wrote in an all-campus e-mail: “Although the actions of the war are thousands of miles from Bethlehem, the effects of this tragedy are felt by all.”

Chris was a 26-Pointer, one of the team of campus ambassadors who take prospective students and their parents on tours of the College and answer their questions and concerns, recalls Bernard Story ’80, vice president for enrollment. Jack Ramsey, professor of theater, remembers Chris as a lighting technician for theater productions and a member of the drama club.

Because he was such an early casualty of the war, the media came to campus in force to find background for their features and to cover his funeral in Central Moravian Church on April 5. Among them were: Channels 3, 6, 10, and Fox 29 (Philadelphia), Channel 69 and TV-2 (Lehigh Valley), and Channel 27 (Harrisburg). The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story; the Morning Call and Express-Times, several. USA Today quoted Bob Stinson for its story on Chris, and Newsweek noted him in a list of early casualties.

Besides Robert Stinson and Bernard Story, others who shared their memories of Chris with the media included Dennis Glew and Rosalind Remer of the history faculty, Bonnie Salter of the Admissions Office, and Ann Claussen, director of the HUB.

The first of a series of Tuesday prayer services at the Peace Pole was dedicated to Chris, and a memorial bell tolled for him.