November 12, 2008

Officers Take Time to Remember War Veterans

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­­Amidst the backdrop of the West Campus World War I Memorial yesterday, retired U.S. Navy Captain James Nault discussed the past and present service of veterans from Cornell in honor of Veterans Day.
Veterans Day — which was originally called Armistice Day to celebrate veterans of World War I — was changed to Veterans Day to celebrate all veterans who fought since then. It is commemorated every year on Nov. 11.
[img_assist|nid=33508|title=Time to remember|desc=Officers stand outside the Gothics on West Campus yesterday after the Veteran’s Day Observance Ceremony.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]During the ceremony, Nault, also a former professor of naval science, addressed the question of why anyone would put themselves through the potentially harsh and dangerous conditions of serving in the military. He emphasized that it was neither the G.I. Bill nor the lack of job opportunities that convinced people to serve, but rather their love for the United States of America, and the love of freedom for which this nation stands.
“All veterans … wherever they served, have sacrificed,” he said.
Nault spoke of the presidential election last week, recognizing the historic and symbolic significance of America and its ability to transcend racial and ethnic barriers.
In Nault’s home state of New Hampshire, the words “Live Free or Die” are engraved on license plates. Nault referred to these words, as well as Patrick Henry’s famous quote, “Give me liberty or give me death,” to highlight the fact that no one is necessarily forced to join and stay in the military. Nevertheless, a sense of civic duty to protect the liberty of the United States motivates people to serve this nation, he said.
A special luncheon at the Straight followed the ceremony, where veterans, active members of the military and their families joined in solidarity to celebrate Veterans Day.
Navy ROTC member Andrew Richley ’09, whose grandfather was a veteran, said, “It’s important to recognize the significance of this day considering the military history of Cornell. There are many memorials on campus, people just tend to pass by everyday.”
First Lt. Michael Beber, Army assistant recruiting officer, attended the event to “pay tribute.” Beber declared, “Most of us know soldiers — family and friends — who have lost their lives in war, and we should pay tribute to them.”
The event was sponsored by Cornell’s Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality, and the Department of Military Science. Over 50 people were in attendance.