2018 Veterans Day

2018 Veterans Day


And welcome to our Veterans Day celebration here at Stockton University.
My name is Jason Babin, and I’m a Veteran
and I’m the Director of Military and Veteran Services here at Stockton.
I am honored to be with honored to be here with you today
as we recognize our Service Members and Veterans and remember their many sacrifices.
All week we’ve been educating our community on what it means to serve
through programs like our Veterans monologue and our salute to African American service members.
along with our many speakers that we had this week.
Along with today’s events each one of these program was done to help our
community better understand the great
men and women who wear the uniform.
I would now like to ask that everyone please stand for the singing of our
National Anthem by Danielle Quinn class
of 2018.
[clapping]
Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early
light.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight.
O”er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
[clapping}
Ah yes that was amazing Thank You Danielle.
And if that is the first time you’ve heard her she is outstanding
and we are so glad to have her come back and sing our National Anthem.
At this time I would like to recognize all those among us who have served in the US Armed Forces.
To our active duty military personnel,
reservists, members of the National Guard and all our Veterans.
It is your service and sacrifice that has kept our Nation safe and free.
If you are able, please stand and be recognized today.
[Clapping]
Regardless of which branch you served in.
Whether it was in combat, or in peacetime.
No matter what your job was or how many years you serve you deserve the
recognitions, recognition and thanks of a
grateful nation.
We can truly never thank you for all that you have done.
Those of us who served in the military understand the importance of leadership.
Here at Stockton we are fortunate to have leaders who are committed to helping every student succeed.
And because of their support we have one of the finest Military and Veteran programs in the nation.
Please join me in welcoming our Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dr. Lori Vermeulen.
[clapping]
Good morning everyone.
On behalf of President Kesselman, I am pleased to welcome you
to our annual Veterans Day celebration at Stockton University.
Winston Churchill said all the great things are simple
and many can be expressed in a single word.
Freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
All of these great things are available to us in America because of our Veterans.
Today we celebrate Veterans Day there is
no apostrophe in this phrase and this is intentional.
This isn’t a day that belongs to Veterans it isn’t owned by Veterans.
It is a day that belongs to everyone who enjoys the life that exists for us
because of the sacrifices of our Veterans and their families.
This celebration directs all of us to honor our Veterans and to thank them
for giving us these six great things things that Winston Churchill points us to.
Freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
Now I’m going to keep repeating these things so that it can quiz you on them later.
I am the Chief Academic Officer and I’m allowed to quiz you on anything at any time.
So remember them freedom, justice, honor,
duty, mercy, hope.
Freedom is not free and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice their families and friends know this truth.
Freedom is the opportunity to choose for ourselves.
It is a priceless gift that is not available to everyone at all times.
Our Veterans protect the freedoms that we enjoy.
They provide our freedoms, and they endure our freedoms.
Justice is not served when freedom is limited.
Our Veterans preserve freedom and in so doing allow for justice.
Honor reflects the esteem that we place in our veterans for their contributions to providing our freedom.
Duty is about responsibilities.
Our Veterans have personally taken on the responsibility to protect our freedom.
Mercy is our wish to our Veterans that you may treat yourselves with compassion.
And finally hope. Hope is for what comes next.
You may know that Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day.
A day set aside to commemorate the Armistice that was signed on November 11 1918 to end World War 1.
World War one was described as the war to end all wars.
This was a great expression of hope.
We haven’t lost that hope and we thank our Veterans for keeping this hope alive.
All the great things are simple and many can be expressed in a single word.
Freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
We thank our Veterans for the gift of these great things.
Stockton University has a strong history of supporting and welcoming Veterans.
Our institution is approaching its 50th anniversary since our founding
And one of the unique things about Stockton is that we began during the
Vietnam War.
We welcomed many Veteran Vietnam Veterans to our campus
And this began a strong tradition of honoring, welcoming, and supporting our Veterans
All while providing them with a Stockton education.
We thank our Veterans for being a part of our history and and our identity.
We thank them for providing us with the opportunity to provide a transformative and impactful education.
So I guess I have to disagree with Winston just a bit.
He said all the great things are simple and many can be expressed in a single word.
Freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.
These things are indeed great but the ability to have them and to keep them is not at all simple.
On behalf of Stockton University we thank our Veterans for their contributions
to providing these great things for the benefit of all of us.
Thank you for attending today.
[clapping]
Thank You Dr. Lori Vermeulen.
We thank you for being with us today and for the constant and enthusiastic support of the Stockton community.
Our next speaker is a U.S. Army Combat Veteran and president of the Student Veteran Organization.
Please welcome Mr. Ryan Luurtsema.
[clapping]
Thank you Jason. Morning everybody, good
morning everybody again.
Thank you all for coming out on this impactful day.
Fellow service members, Veterans, families and leaders of the community thank you for being here.
It is an honor to observe Veterans Day with all of you.
Though I put my uniform up for good it doesn’t mean that I will give up serving for my country in any way possible.
It is daily an occurrence for me on how to challenge myself to do more for others
and not only to give back to our community but also what we as a community can do for others.
On this day we respect and we give our gratitude and appreciation for our freedom to our Nation’s Veterans.
As a community we are indebted for their sacrifices.
The men and women who took the nation’s call to serve from home,
to installations around the world, and be deployed to foreign lands.
When you are discharged from the military you hang up the uniform but the
selfless service is never done or a moment to act for another is never extinguished.
I would like to share a small personal moment with all of you.
Though it is every Veterans experience
but this one is mine.
I was medically retired in 2016 and it was at that moment for the first time in ten years
I did not understand my next purpose and
mission for getting out of the military.
It was a dark time for me as it is most,for Veterans freshly out of the military.
And it was challenging, difficult, but I
overcame it when it when I was invited
to speak at a middle school in Atlantic
City for what service meant to me.
In a short sense when I was asked by a sixth grader
it was awakened in me when I can put myself on a line for another person.
We as a team equally complete the task at hand In any given situation.
From protecting one another,
getting a project done for a homework assignment,
or just holding a door for another person.
It’s that mute satisfaction of service that you can do for one another.
Even though it’s small but it’s still a strong sense of service to one another.
You should enact it on a daily.
The road will always be challenging for Veterans to feel part of and greater than
the selfless service and camaraderie learned and attained in the military.
But it can be rewarding when the community as a whole
yearns for a better understanding of
that selfless service.
There is always more we can do to honor, educate, and provide the best resources of the
culture and respect for our fellow Veterans.
When when I was newly elected for this position for the Student Veterans Organization earlier this year
my first thought as president was and it still is what can we do more for this population.
How can the understanding in the education be so prominent in everyone’s eyes not just our own.
So everyone in this environment has an understanding of who and what Veterans are.
Collectively as a team, we set high standards for ourselves
to ensure the impact and work is suitable and what we represent as a team.
Some of these objectives are veteran priority housing for incoming veteran students.
Stockton University space management packed for a Veteran’s Resource Center at Stockton University.
Career placement in advanced career fair times for student veterans.
A 22 suicides a day memorial project personally implicated by one of our members.
Veteran benefit programs within local business leaders
such as Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, Stay Afloat Aquatic Therapy,
Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce
for Atlantic City airshow and more.
All these I, all of these ideas are concepts,
they’re goals.
They’re ongoing goals, they’re ongoing concepts that we can just keep
striving to make sure they either get
complete or moving forward because
they’re impactful and needed.
Stockton University offers in so many different ways resources for the student Veterans here.
But not only for student veterans
but population as a whole.
Because we as a whole are Stockton
University.
One of the programs that I’ve been invited to attend this year is called the Vet paneling.
It’s Veterans engaging teachers.
This gives an opportunity for Veterans to speak to everyday students
and professors here at Stockton University.
And to have a better understanding of
what it is to be a Veteran.
In closing I would ask not just as a veteran but as a citizen of this incredible country for that,
For just a second when you’re walking around campus
or wherever you are in your travels today.
For that moment the people you pass may not be wearing the nations military service uniforms today
but in time past from a year or a decade or even generations ago
might have been one of our fellow citizens who heeded the unknown calling
to sacrifice their lives and put their
own purpose on hold for someone else’s
who didn’t have that calling.
You can show how much you love our country but respecting by respecting each other
and our neighbors as though you would want respect for yourself.
May God watch over the men and women that gave their ultimate sacrifices in the name of freedom.
But then may God watch the men and women who are still serving the call today.
Thank you for your time.
[clapping]
Thank You Ryan.
And everybody that knows Ryan
I’ve had the pleasure of working with him for the past year personally
as the leader of the SVO and I can tell you
that he strives every single day to make
the lives better for our military and
military and veteran students here at
Stockton.
I would now I’d like to introduce one of two of our keynote speakers today Mr. Rick Speak, Rick Springsteen.
Rick is a US Navy Veteran who served aboard a repair ship USS Cadmus AR 14
as an illustrator draftsman where he conducted two cruises in the Mediterranean.
After the US Navy Rick worked as a commercial artist and
staff artist for jay-z art services, the Trenton Times, and the Press of Atlantic City.
In addition, he served as a chaplain and counselor for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission from 99 to 2017.
He is currently the chairman of the board of Gospel Outbound
and a volunteer for American Atlantic City as a VA Support Specialists.
Please welcome Rick Springsteen.
[clapping]
Good morning everyone.
I’d like to thank very much Stockton University for sponsoring this event.
And Thank you staff, the students, visiting Veterans guests and attendees here today.
Thank you very much for being a part of our Valor Veterans Day.
I personally want to thank the observance of this celebration.
It means so much to Veterans that have served in the past
and those that are in the Armed Forces right now
to have days like today where people come together and recognize the sacrifice it’s done.
The reason I’m addressing you today is that I’m a Veteran.
And why am I a veteran?
After my senior years, year in high school
I wondered what the heck I was gonna do with the rest of my life.
I was almost 18 years old at the time and very self-absorbed with no structure or discipline.
My biggest talent was in art.
I was truly blessed one day when I talked to a Veteran
that told me about the naval job called illustrator draftsman.
And that’s why I enlisted.
In boot camp as a recruit at the recruit training center in Great
Lakes Illinois,
I finally learned some structure and discipline that I needed.
Not only did I, did I get as Jason told you that I.
After boot camp I was assigned to the USS Cadmus AR 14 which is a repair ship.
And one of my first details was to go into and the microfilm locker
in the drafting shop which was a real mess.
We had boxes and boxes of blueprints of ships.
Not only in the Atlantic Fleet but in the 6th fleet where we ended up in the Mediterranean.
Because at that time it was the Cold War.
And we needed to keep an eye on the the Soviets that were in that area.
I had many tasks during that period of time but it was something that I enjoyed very much.
Shortly after all of that I when I got
out of the Navy
I volunteered for a spot as a commercial artist with jzr service.
Which was sort of like an apprenticeship in my drawings and so forth.
I took to the the press over at the Trenton Times and got a job doing art work.
In those days they didn’t have computers you had to do everything by hand
designing ads for the newspaper which was a real task in those days.
I transferred into advertising sales
with my ability of drawing out as like I did
for all the other representatives there.
I was able to do thumbnail sketches and really progressed in the the field in the newspapers.
And two weeks ago I have to tell you this that my son just
graduated two weeks ago from Great Lakes and now is in the Navy down in Pensacola, Florida
And is following the steps footsteps of his grandfather, my myself,
and now he’s third generation which I’m really happy about.
My naval experience proved to be very helpful
and I hope that Veterans that have served in the Armed Forces
have gotten into that niche that they they need it to be.
I have a
an appreciation for each Veteran.
You know a Veteran signs up for two, three, or four years maybe even more.
And they they become a part of this force that is
helping the United States and the world.
Let me let me tell you some perspective into this.
Starting it with the concept of protecting our country.
The United States Army was established in June 14, 1775.
Right behind that the U.S. Navy October 13, 1775
US Marine Corps November 10, 1775.
The US Coast Guard August 4, 1790
The US Air Force September 18 1947.
All of this has given experience to so many
people during that.
I have a list here of 23 conflicts that the United States has been in
but it’s not just the 23 conflicts there were more.
But let me let me go down a list. It’ll take a short period of time.
The War of Independence 1775 to 1783.
The Barbary war um Bayberry war 1801.
The war of 1812.
The War with Mexico 1846 to 1848.
American Civil War 1861 to 1865.
The Spanish-American war 1898.
Boxer Rebellion 1899 to 1901.
The Philippine-American war 1899 to 1902.
The World War 1 1917 to 1918.
The Russian Revolution listen to this 1819
we sent 5,000 troops for there to help the Russians.
World War 2 1941 to 1945.
The Cold War era which I was in 1945 to 1991.
The US was involved with the Korean War
1915 in 1953.
Lebanon crisis 1958.
The Dominican intervention in 1965.
The Vietnam War 1964 to 1975
where 5,000 Americans died are 57,000 excuse me.
The Island of Grenada you might remember that if you’re old enough October 1983
where one thousand US troops consisting of
Paratroopers, Marines, Rangers, and
Special Ops were sent for that conflict.
Persian Gulf 1990 to 1991.
The Somalia conflict in 1992.
Haitian conflict 1994 to 1995.
Yugoslavia as a member of NATO we were there in 1999.
October in Iraq 2003 to 2011.
The Syrian Iraq intervention in 2014.
What do you think that all that
means?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has estimated
from records of historical wartime service
which comes up with forty one point nine million service members
in that period of war.
Including the current conflicts of Iraq
and Afghanistan.
Veterans of America estimates that some 2.8 million have served in Iraq and or Afghanistan.
Most mostly only 15% of the total personnel were deployed to those Iraq and Afghanistan.
So it all boils down to the neighborhood of forty four point seven million servicemen
and women
have been in peace not only in peacetime
but served consistently during that whole
period.
I hope that information is an eye-opener to you.
Getting back to my own personal story which is in progress still.
As I have already told you my current employment, or Jason did too.
That Volunteers of America is where I serve as a veteran specialist and wait a
minute.
I have the honor of helping Veterans
that are in need in Atlantic County area.
Some are homeless.
Some are in need of detox.
Some are needing programs or housing,
Or in need of medical assistance
to getting their medical records and things like that.
That’s what I do.
I hook people that come into our offices
with their needs that are Veterans.
I they may have difficulties like suffering from
PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, amputee limbs, depression you name it.
There’s a lot more than that.
These men and women deserve support from our community as well.
I am blessed to connect these Veterans with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Wilmington Delaware.
Which includes their clinics in Northfield and Vineland New Jersey.
But I particularly like to use the Veterans multi service center in Millville, New Jersey
Their staff has been instrumental in helping the Veterans in this area.
So I thank you very much for your attention.
And please remember the Veterans on this Sunday November 11th.
God Bless America.
[clapping]
Thank you Rick.
Our next keynote speaker needs little introduction because he is a very valued member of our community
not just in this area but in Cape May Cape May County.
That being said he is not on our schedule however when a General shows up,
anybody that has served, when a general shows up you make time for him.
So I’d like to introduce our next guest speaker Jeffery Pierson.
Cape May County Freeholder and retired
Brigadier General thank you.
[clapping]
Well good morning. Jason thank you for putting this program together today.
Distinguished guest speakers, and parents out here, students.
Veterans thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Are there any Gold Star Mothers in the audience?
Or Gold Star family members?
How about Blue Star Mothers?
You’re Blue Star mother.
Would you please stand up.
Or Blue Star family members. Thank you.
Now, the unique connection here is she’s Ryan’s or he she’s Ryan’s mother okay.
Now Ryan also has two other siblings still on active duty.
It’s tremendous courage for a family member to allow that to happen you know.
So and I’ve known this young lady for a long time.
She went to my church in Holy Trinity in Ocean City
And she’s now living in Florida and I haven’t had the opportunity to see her for many years so.
I just thought it was important just to bring you up just as a blue star mother God bless you.
My focus, or my talk is going to be more
focused to the National Guard of New Jersey.
And what we do for the National Guard and for the veterans of New Jersey.
In whole as the department I served 42
years in the military.
The bulk of that was in New Jersey National Guard, and numerous tours of active duty for
training and a three year active duty stint at 4th army headquarters and at Fort Sheridan Illinois so.
I’ve been around, have been through different parts of the world and done some things.
But and I’ll admit right here in front of ya,I never had a bullet fired at me and anger.
So Jason congratulations that you have made it through this,
your array of two tours and God bless you.
So I’m here today to just bring you a message and I want to talk a
little bit about more of a historical point of the, of a Veterans Day regarding the Armistice.
Because this is the 100th anniversary this year of World War one.
The ending of World War one.
The guns fell silent on the Western Front
at the eleventh hour, that 11th day
of the 11th month of 1919.
And it ended four years of bloody war between all the Nations of Europe and then as the United States were drawn in.
World War one was a clash of old ideas of warfare in old and new technologies.
At the same time the Great War as it was called, or the War to end all Wars.
It was where the New Jerseyans had played a large part in this war.
Following the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1914,
New Jersey’s Industrial Centers formed a
powerhouse of war production.
None other was ever found in the country at that time on the seaboard.
The state became the largest producer of chemicals, ammunition, and artillery shells for the country.
The new mechanized warfare demanded New Jersey machinery, automobile parts, ships, and petroleum products.
The country’s wartime leader, President Woodrow Wilson who was a former Governor of New Jersey
and the former President of Princeton University had run on a ticket of no war.
He wasn’t, he didn’t want to fight.
But later we were sucked into it with the sinking of the Lusitania.
But once committed to the cause he helped cement the position of the American leadership on the world stage.
Consequently the expectations of the American military power would all change after that for decades to come.
As the United States entered a war in April 6 of 1917,
the 104th engineers in New Jersey National Guard
were called upon to construct camp Dix in the heart of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey here.
It’s now called Fort Dix or as many people knew it from the 70s etc.
Now it’s Joint Base Dix McGuire
Lakehurst so it name changed but the
physicality of the place is still there.
Fortunately when I went on active duty in 61 through basic training there,
we went into those World War 1 barracks that were built by the engineers at that time.
They were still there then, thank God they’re gone now.
The 104th engineers, they were all these units that I talked about here
just just real quickly here in the 112
artillery.
They were all mobilized were brought into active duty at Camp Edge.
Camp Edge was for Governor Edge at the time they called
the National Guard training center Camp Edge
based on who the governor was
and that happened up in through the 40s, ate 40s.
Now that’s called Seagirt and it’s a National Guard Training Center.
It’s very modern and up-to-date and we just spent about a hundred and fifty
million dollars of federal dollars several years ago to bring in new facilities and training there.
This was the first ever overseas deployment of
the National Guard soldiers in the history of the Reserve Component Force.
Many in New Jersey got National Guard units entered the war with as part of
the 29th division which was formed in Fort Belvoir Virginia.
And it comprised units from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia.
By the war’s end there were more than a hundred and forty thousand New Jerseyans
that had served in all branches of the service.
Additionally the field clerks and civilian professional staff that they had
at that time in the military they were the proceeders of the current
Warrant Officer strength in the military.
They finally would receive their state recognition as military veterans in 1920
based on a Veterans Preference Act.
An account of the history of the 29th Division at the end of the First World War states,
one moment found the men with ranks depleted grimly marching forward.
The next moment a message received
the word was passed down the line that the armistice had been signed and the war won.
Backs upon which heavy packs were grievously straightened up.
Their thoughts spanned the Atlantic at a bound and there sprang
and immediately in every heart the
desire to go home.
For the signing of the Armistice in the 29th Infantry Division
and all the other Allied forces laid down their arms out there in the battlefields.
They just left them there in Northern France.
Near the farmhouses, the villages, and the Argonne forest.
Near the along the Meuse River.
and
They moved forward and started to redeploy to home depart for home.
And that they came through the Hoboken Terminal
alongside over a million other American troops at the same time.
One year later President President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride
in the heroism for those that have died in
country service.
The war showed us a strength of great nations
getting together to fight with high purposes
and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquest
which can be made into peace.
Originally an act of Congress created Armistice Day as a public holiday in 1938.
and it was dedicated to the World War One Veterans.
In 1954 it was changed to Veterans Day and it’s now dedicated to all veterans that have served.
This great conflict ushered in a new era of industrial combat
consisting of machine guns and mechanized warfare.
Airplanes, things that we never seen on the battlefield.
The dogfights above the trenches creating an entirely new battle scape and understanding the air power.
And by 1929 the 119th avia, Observation Squadron,
a precursor of the New Jersey Air National Guard,
was activated and newly constructed Metropolitan Airport at Newark, New Jersey.
That transition of that squadron is currently located here in yeah.
The National the facility right over
here on the Air Guard base.
German submarine activity off the New Jersey coastline brought destruction of
Western Front dangerously close to the American shores.
The fore bearers of the infantry of the infamous War Packs of World War 2.
Hundreds of thousands of New Jersey women
mobilized for wartime service and munitions factories as nurses.
Red Cross volunteers and ambulance drivers
All the while foreshadowing the mass of home front efforts
of an even greater world conflict to come in two more decades.
Soldiers and Airmen of the modern New Jersey National Guard raise the right hands
with the expectation that they will deploy, they will fight, and they will win the nation’s Wars.
As well as served for the Governor of New Jersey during times of emergencies.
The 508 Military Police Company from Teaneck Armory
is currently mobilized on active duty preparing to deploy to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
More than 250 Airmen have been deployed throughout this year – of 2018.
The two New Jersey Air Wings have flown over 5,000 hours this year 2018.
And in the months ahead hundreds – approximately 2,200
were more citizens civilian soldiers, National Guardsmen
will be leaving their families, friends, and employers as they ship out to conflicted areas around the globe.
The New Jersey, New Jerseyans many of whom have already deployed more than once
will soon serve in Kosovo, Djibouti, Jordan,
Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Colombia.
As we reach the end of our Peak Atlantic hurricane season here
the urgency of hometime, hometown, and statewide emergency looms ahead of us.
And that’s on the forefront of our minds as citizen soldiers.
In September 2018
a New Jersey Army National Guard helicopter
with a team of Army and Air Guardsmen was
deployed to North Carolina following the
hurt of the hurricane Florence storm.
New Jersey demonstrated selfless services soldiers and airmen rolled out for
hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria when they struck in succession in the fall of 2017.
Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and Hurricane Irene in 2011.
And I can personally remember my very first storm when I was enlisted person was in 1962.
The nor’easter of March 62. It was a really terrible storm.
Really beat up New Jersey very bad well the whole coast.
And let’s not forget 9/11.
Where the New Jersey Guardsmen they were there at the tunnels,
the bridges, the rail stations, the airlines and also
evacuating citizens from New York City.
As soldiers and Airmen endure multiple deployments from the state to active duty
it is imperative to remember that New Jersey cares for its Veterans.
Let us remember those citizens soldiers who have deployed in service to their country.
Let us also remember those who cannot be with us today.
To them, to our Veterans, to those that are here today
let’s say thank you to them.
God bless our Military Service, God bless our Veterans, God bless
those that continue to serve, God bless you for attending today, and God Bless America.
[clapping]
Thank you sir for that and if you do not
know Jeff he is a phenomenal guy that
fights for our service members every
single day.
And if there’s ever anything that you need believe me he is a great point of contact for that.
In addition he will be a guest speaker here on November 14th.
If you would like to hear him again and it will be located in our Campus Center in the theater at one o’clock,
just a quick shout out for that.
I would now like to introduce a colleague and friend of mine
who works tirelessly to help and assist our service members.
When I tell you she has one of the hardest jobs here I am not kidding.
She works tireless, tirelessly every day to ensure that our Service Members and
Veterans receives the support they need
to be successful.
Please welcome our counselor and Assistant Director in our Wellness Center Karen Matsinger.
[clapping]
Hello everyone.
As many of you know I’m the counselor who works with the Student Veterans on campus.
Two summers ago I was asked to speak briefly on Veterans Day by Jason.
He said the topic should be
reflection.
Reflection on Veterans Day.
It seemed like a better topic for Memorial
Day to me.
I tried to get out of it, he was ready. He said you know them the best.
This year he asked me to repeat my speech for all you kind folks. So one more time, Reflection.
So many people ask me what it’s like to work with Veterans.
As if there’s one story that would explain what it’s like to be in my position.
As if there’s one story that best defines what made a Veteran who they are today.
In one story that explains the circumstances of their collective past.
It’s always such a difficult question to answer because I know
a good amount of the student Veterans and I know that they don’t have one story.
I’ve given this, these questions who are they, where do they like a lot of thought and I can explain who they are.
Think of our Veterans like as mirrors.
If you look at a mirror you see a
reflection.
Like a mirror, our military also provides us with reflection.
After all, they’re reflections of who we are as Americans.
They are a diverse population from every walk of life which some point decided to
join the military and accept the responsibility of defending our country
and protecting our way of life that’s it.
That’s what you see when you stand back and you look into a mirror we know as our Armed Forces.
However, say you had the opportunity to stand close.
I mean nose against the mirror close.
Only from a position of nose against the glass can you see the true essence of a
mirror.
Most people don’t know this but when you get close to a mirror it’s actually green.
You see mirrors reflect all colors however green is the most the color with the most variant to the human eye.
There are many many shades of green just as there’s many many shades of people who serve.
There’s no cookie cutter example of who serves.
They’re as diverse as all the greens that reflect in a mirror when you get close enough to really see them.
I stand close, I see them.
I know them as individuals not the mirrors reflection but the close-up variants of green.
I know them in all their forms from every culture, religion, orientation, and background.
They’re the 18 year old living in the dorm, and they’re the 60 year old living in their car.
There Christian, Muslim, and Jewish.
I’ve watched some of them lose their faith, and others regain it.
They come from so many backgrounds that I constantly have to stay on my toes
to remember each person’s history because it’s so much more important than their military service.
Funny thing about mirrors.
When you put two mirrors in front of each other
they create a tunnel with seemingly infinite numbers of reflections.
As light backs bounces back and forth from one mirror to the next
the mirrors reflective capability is gradually weakened.
If someone is looking at the reflection produced in a mirror tunnel
the light waves have already been reflected several times over before reaching their eyes
thus making the greenish color of the mirrors material more prominent.
This is such a perfect analogy of how I spend my days at Stockton.
I sit with all these diverse and wonderful people and I listen to their stories unfold.
The light of their being bounces back and forth between us
as the capacity to misinterpret who each veteran is is a person generally weakens
and who they are as an individual becomes more prominent.
I am so privileged.
So few people get the opportunity to press
their nose against the glass and see
others true self so deeply and clearly.
I can only extend this privilege to you
in small antidotes but I will try to make you see.
So the student who births blurts out in class I love my guns
is a student who for an entire year slept with a gun tucked in his sleeping bag.
His only sense of security in a strange place so far from home,
he ate with that gun, and he went to the bathroom with that gun.
His superiors continuously told him that that gun was life itself into that
student it was true because he survived.
That student who limps and stutters.
The one who’s giving you yet another excuse forgetting an assignment.
He was smiling at me when he described how he begged doctors to remove a part of his mangled hand.
He smiled as he talked about being shot, and stabbed, and gassed.
He smiled because it happened to him and not to his friends sleeping next to him,
and not to his children, and not to yours.
That student who seems tired so much more exhausted than his peers.
An hour before class he politely leaned over my computer
open google maps and showed me the crater that left the IED that changed his life forever.
So on so on.
The marriages, and the divorces. the family fights, the academic awards,
the babies, the nightmares, the excitement, and the boredom.
Boots and beards.
I sit and I listen to tragedy, survival, strength, and regret.
I see it all through their eyes and it is beautiful because they are beautiful.
They are the best reflection
of who we are as a people.
I press my nose against the mirror and I revel in who we are as people and understand the
understanding of why some of us choose
to defend America.
Thank you to each of you who serve and for bravely sharing a huge part of you.
[clapping]
Yeah Karen every single time you, second year you said that really hits hits home I think.
And you know Karen does have the most amazing and most difficult job here.
We are one of only a few institutions that have a dedicated counselor for our service members and Veterans.
And I was part of her hiring process and she is just an amazing person.
We are so thrilled to have her as a member of our team.
I would now like to introduce Patrick Morrisey.
A Stockton student and a service member in the New Jersey Army National Guard who will be reading a poem.
Please welcome Patrick Morrissey.
[clapping]
Hello
I am going to read ado too a soldier it’s Winston Churchill again.
If you have ever watched Dead You Poets Society it’s essentially Oh Captain my Captain.
Ado old soldier.
You of the rude campaigning which we shared.
The rapid march.
The life of the camp.
The hot content and the hot contention of
opposing fronts.
The long maneuver.
Red battles with their slaughter.
The stimulus the strong terrifying game.
Spell of all brave and manly hearts.
The trip the trains of time through you and like of the like of you all filled.
With war and wars expression.
Ado dear come, Ado dear comrade.
Your mission is fulfilled.
But I more warlike myself.
And this contentious soul of mine.
Still on our own campaigning, bound,
through untried roads with ambushes, opponents lined.
Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis often battled.
Here marching ever marching on a war fight out.
I here
to fiercer
weightier battles give expression.
[clapping]
Thank You Patrick.
While Veterans Day is a day to acknowledge the services and sacrifice of our Veterans
we would like to take a moment to remember the men and
women who have served our country and
are no longer with us.
Let us never forget those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
That have given us the freedom we possess today.
Please bow your heads for a moment of silence.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.
That Saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see.
[clapping]
Yes I was even tearing up for that part too as well so.
It is it is perfectly okay you know to acknowledge that.
While this is a day of celebration we still want to acknowledge that those
that you know that are no longer here
with us.
The wreath that you see here will be placed within our Veterans Park.
It will serve as a reminder to those that pass it to remember those who have
served and the fact sacrifices they have made.
This concludes our Veterans Day
celebration but I would like to take a
moment to thank our Student Veterans who are here today helping us make this event happen.
Please give them a round of
applause.
[clapping]
I would also like to thank Ashley Jones who is an invaluable member of our team.
You probably saw her running around in the background.
It’s one of the main reasons we were able to do the things that we do today.
Thank you all for coming and we wish you a great Veterans Day.
[clapping]

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