A President's Reflections

A Day Off On Veterans Day?

Posted on November 12, 2012

Every year we wrestle with the question of how to honor our veterans.  We know that for many and maybe most people, simply giving a day off means sleeping in and shopping and other activities and little about paying respect.  That’s not true for all and certainly not those who sincerely wish we cancelled classes so they could reflect and pay homage.  I fear they are the distinct minority, though that does not make their sentiments any less important or heartfelt.

We honor the day in other ways.  In our most public spot on campus we are today reading the names of all those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, part of the National Roll Call and a process that will continue all day (it takes about 8 ½ hours) and that I kicked off this morning.  I’ve watched students strolling by actually stop in their tracks and listen quietly.  We fly the service flags.  We last night sponsored a major fund raiser for Veteran’s Counts, part of raising $300,000 to support veterans and their families.  Tomorrow we will cut the ribbon for the official opening of our new Veterans Center.

I feel like all of these things are more meaningful than simply giving people a day off to do things unrelated to our veterans.  It’s not perfect and I don’t want to pretend that I know for certain what percentage of our students would use the day off to actually honor veterans, but I’m pretty confident that the things I described above are more meaningful.  For those who really would honor the day, I hope you understand.  It’s a question I’m willing to reconsider and I don’t know if there is one right or perfect answer, but we take seriously our commitment to veterans and honoring their service.

I’d love to hear more ideas about what we can do to better support our veterans (we have more than any school in the state) and honor their service.


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