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Veteran's Association Holds Veterans Day Ceremony

By Kelson Howerton
On November 16, 2017

Pikeview High School students Present Colors in Veteran’s Day Ceremony.
Photo By Kelson Howerton

The Concord University Veterans Association held a Veterans Day ceremony honoring the university’s many veterans on Friday, Nov. 10.

    Founded in 2013, the Concord University Veterans Association has been working to improve the lives of veterans on and off campus.

    Held in the Wilkes Family Chapel in University Point, the ceremony began with the presenting of colors by the PikeView JROTC all-service color guard, followed by a signing of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” by Pikeview JROTC’s Sign Language Team. The national anthem was then sung by Concord student Kaley Grace Morris, and the pledge of allegiance was led by Concord University’s Veteran Benefits Certifying Official Teresa Frey.

    Dr. Peter Viscusi then gave some opening remarks, honoring the veterans and family members of veterans in attendance. “We at Concord want to honor our veterans, acknowledge their achievements, their courage, and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices,” Dr. Viscusi said. “The service members we honor today come from all walks of life, but they share several fundamental qualities. They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty, and integrity – all of the qualities needed to serve the great cause, one that’s greater than any individual.”

    Veterans Committee Chair Chuck Eliot then introduced Steven Kennedy, Concord University’s student veterans advocate, who gave a speech on the importance of honoring our veterans on that day. While he had a formal speech prepared, Kennedy decided to go off-script to speak from the heart on what the holiday means to him.

    “John F. Kennedy once said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,’ and I think that stands for every veteran who has taken the oath and served this great nation,” Kennedy said. “It’s tremendous to be able to celebrate this in a free country. I don’t think people take the time out of their day, but I encourage you not only to use Veterans Day, or 9/11, or anything of that matter to celebrate the veterans who have fought for this country and died, I ask that you take just a second out of your day, every single day, just to think of how lucky we are to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

    After Kennedy’s speech, Concord Administrative Associate Carolyn Worley closed the service in prayer.

    While the ceremony was the chief way in which veterans were honored on the Friday observance of Veterans Day, the Concord Veterans Association also took other steps to show its appreciation to the university’s veterans. “This is one of the major holidays of the year, and we want to try to think of a lot of little things we can do for the veterans,” Teresa Frey said.

    Following the ceremony, the Veterans Association held the National Roll Call at Subway Sides in the Student Center, listing the names of every veteran from West Virginia who fought and died from 2001 until today. Additionally, Aramark provided lunch for the veterans at the Athens campus, and the CU Veterans Association reserved the parking lot in front of the Student Center for veterans to park throughout the day.

    The Veterans Association has had a busy year apart from this defining holiday, as it has organized several other initiatives to honor and accommodate Concord’s veterans. In October, the Association unveiled its Purple Heart Recipient parking space at the Callaghan Stadium parking lot, which will serve as a permanent parking spot for any Purple Heart recipient at the university. Earlier in the month, the Association set up a single table in the cafeteria titled “The Missing Man Table,” a symbolic place “reserved to honor our missing comrades in arms.”

    On Oct. 17, the Veterans Association hosted a photo exhibit from award-winning photographer, World War II veteran, and Bluefield, West Virginia, native Melvin Grubb in the Marsh Library, who shared stories of his experiences in the Pacific theater of the war.

    While the Association has helped and directed many student veterans in their college careers, it has also helped its very own Steven Kennedy, a social work major, find his calling at the university. “Up until I took this job, I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do with my degree, but I think this job has helped me see exactly what I want to do,” Kennedy said. He hopes to continue working with the national Student Veterans Association and the Veterans Association after graduation to continue to help veterans, just like himself, find their way after leaving the military.

    “Right now, we’re working on starting a scholarship for veterans that are facing hardships or anything of that nature, which that won’t take effect until next year, and we have a few things planned for next year,” Kennedy stated. Aside from that, the Veterans Association will continue to provide veterans with any resources they may need.

    Concord University is currently home to over 35 veterans, although Kennedy expects those numbers to rise with the help of the newly created Veterans Upward Bound program, which seeks 125 veterans a year in their path to higher education.

    For more information about the Association, contact Steven Kennedy at kennedys24@mycu.concord.edu.

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