UNF pays homage to veterans

Colin McCann

On Nov. 7, UNF hosted a ceremony to recognize and commemorate veterans for their dedication and service.

The ceremony began with the presentation of colors and the Star Spangled Banner, played by the UNF Brass Quintet. The flags of the different branches of service were displayed as members of UNF’s Army ROTC drill team marched in uniform with guns in hand.

The crowd stands for the presentation of colors. Photo by Colin McCann

Ret. Captain Robert Buehn of the United States Navy, and Director of the Military and Veterans Resource Center, recognized the veterans that attended the event, thanking them for their service. He then welcomed the honored guest, Commander, Navy Region Southeast Rear Admiral Better Bolivar.

Bolivar approached the stand with a smile, offering her gratitude to veterans everywhere, as well as to UNF for honoring veterans by hosting the event. She mentioned that Veterans Day helps people understand the sacrifice service members and their families make.

“[In a] world where people exist, freedom is still worth fighting for,” Bolivar said. However, she also said, “The defense of our nation is not just the responsibility of a few, but of everyone.”

Specifically, she noted the support her own family gives her and the support of the American public.

Bolivar talked about the beginning of Veterans Day, which she said was originally called Armistice Day, a day to remember the veterans of WWI. She said it was later renamed by President Eisenhower, following the Korean War, and made to honor past, present, and future veterans.

Bolivar also praises veterans for risking their lives and putting their service before themselves, saying “it is a debt that we can never repay.” Additionally, she noted their bravery and courage.

She said veterans dedicate long hours, go through deployment and relocation, as well as miss holidays and birthdays. They deal with difficult and dangerous situations so that we can be free.

Photo by Colin McCann

“America rose the greatest on the shoulders of our veterans,” said Bolivar. “We owe them our very way of life: our freedom to live, our freedom to work, and our freedom to raise our families as we please.”

She said that when we think of our freedoms, we should think of the veterans who gave and continue to give their lives for it. Bolivar then gave a special recognition to WWII veterans.

Bolivar closed with a story of an older veteran, walking slouched over. The veteran sees a colonel, who he thinks is saluting him. The veteran smiles and stands up straight, coming to life. He was transformed. Bolivar said that this is what thanking a veteran for his or her service does.

The ceremony ended with service songs of the different branches, played by the UNF Brass Quintet. As the songs rang through the Student Union, veterans stood and were given a round of applause.

The Military Museum of North Florida, United Service Organizations (USO), Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA),  K9s for Warriors, UNF Athletics, and Wounded Warrior Project  were also there to offer their support and gratitude.



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