On Friday, Nov. 10, the Military Veterans Club held the Veterans Day Ceremony in the Miron Student Center room 228. Students, faculty, and veterans gathered together to honor our nation's soldiers.
Veterans Day is an important holiday that seeks to keep those who have fought for our freedom in each person's memory. It is a day where citizens can honor the brave soldiers who have either risked or given their lives to ensure the liberty that this nation was forged upon. As a result, the Military Veterans Club president Frank Schupp wanted to have a Veteran's Day Ceremony that adequately commemorated the veterans on campus and elsewhere.
Veterans, students and faculty funneled into MSC room 228 for the ceremony. It kicked off with the presentation of colors, in which the Cranford Veterans of Foreign Wars planted the American flag and the POW/MIA flag at the front of the podium. This is a considerably organized procession that reveres the flags placed up front.
With the flags up front, the crowd stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the National Anthem. The intended singer of the National Anthem had an unexpected emergency that prevented her from attending; however, DJ Frank Gadson went out of his way to play a recording of the National Anthem instead. With hands on their hearts or to their sides, everyone in the room was standing tall for the flag.
As the color guard left the front of the room, Mariama Roldan, a Catholic Campus minister, led the invocation. She prayed for the president of the United States, the nation's armed forces, the families with members in the armed forces, and peace across the nation.
There was one remark in the prayer that truly stood out from the rest of the powerful prayer. Roldan said, "I pray for...our veterans, who have given their lives for our country and [those who] bravely face the challenges of war that we may not ourselves."
This stood out because oftentimes people can forget the importance of Veterans Day. In the busyness of our daily lives, some individuals can often overlook how soldiers of our armed forces that accost the challenges of war so that we citizens may never have to face it ourselves. Their selfless act fueled by love and patriotism is what is highlighted and honored on Veterans Day.
After invocation and a poignant poem about POW/MIAs, those at the ceremony observed a moment of silence. This moment was dedicated to living and deceased veterans from all over the country.
The ceremony had a handful of speakers who addressed different aspects of Veteran's Day. Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, New Jersey talked about the impact veterans have on the country not only in times of war on the battlefield, but also in times of need within our country in response to the many natural disasters that the nation has come across.
Another two speakers were the retired army medic Jeff Mullins and his wife Nancy Mullins. Jeff Mullins is the vice president for Rebuilding Warriors, an organization that assists veterans who suffer from PTSD, suicidal ideation, and other disorders caused by their time in combat. The unique facet about this organization is that they use around 60 service dogs to rehabilitate veterans that may be facing challenges, both mentally and physically. This ceremony doubled as a fundraiser for Rebuilding Warriors, which depends entirely on public and private donations as well as a constant influx of caring volunteers.
Vito Zajda, the director of Veterans Student Services and co-advisor of the Military Veterans Club, reflected on the assets and benefits available for veterans who attend the school. He also extended a thank you to the veterans present in the room and elsewhere. Additionally, Dr. Thomas Walsh, a Kean University associate professor of middle and secondary education and U.S. Navy Retired Veteran, provided a commentary focused around the ordeals he faced along his comrades in his time in the U.S. Navy. He urged the crowd to understand and to never forget that freedom is not free, and that it comes at the costly price of life.
Senior Class President Damion Wilson also spoke at the ceremony, expressing gratitude toward all veterans on behalf of the student body.
"365 days a year, we wake up and go to sleep knowing that we have freedom when we open and close our eyes, and that is because of you," Wilson mentioned. "...we thank our veterans on their selflessness and commit to doing what we can to improve the quality of life of our veterans, military families, and communities across America."
Samantha Anderjcisk, a Kean student, beautifully played the traditional Taps on her woodwind instrument. Shortly after, the Cranford VFW retired the colors to conclude the ceremony.
All in all, the Veterans Day Ceremony was an exceptional event that truly commemorated the veterans across our nation. The ceremony gave the due respect and remembrance of the brave soldiers that have fought for this nation's freedom and continue to live on both in life and in memory.