There were many reasons to celebrate Veterans Day at UNC Pembroke on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of this century.
University students, faculty and staff read more than 6,200 of those reasons in a roll call beginning at 7:30 a.m. UNCP and its chapter of the Student Veterans Association (SVA) staged events throughout day and into the evening.
The university participated in Remembrance Day National Roll Call by reading the names service men and women who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty-seven students, faculty and staff volunteers read until late in the afternoon. At 2 p.m., Veterans Day was officially marked on the lawn of the James B. Chavis University Center. UNCP’s Army ROTC paraded the colors, and music majors Cheri Ward and Samuel Robert Paff played “Taps.”
Harold Hunt, a Vietnam veteran and representative of the Lumbee tribe’s Warriors Association, gave the benediction with the opening, “Welcome home brothers.”
“We pray for those who were lost on the battlefield, and we pray for the healing of those who have come home,” Hunt said. “We ask for an end to war and the dawn of a new age of peace.
“On this day, we remember those who were lost on the battlefield,” he continued. “Each of them leaves behind unfulfilled dreams.”
At the Student Veterans Appreciation Banquet, held in the University Center Annex, guest speaker Ronnie Sutton called on veterans to carry their message to the next generation. Sutton is a veteran of both the Air Force and Navy, where as a lieutenant commander, he flew combat missions during the Vietnam War.
“Veterans Day is something people our age understand,” Sutton said. “It behooves us as veterans to explain the significance of this day to another generation.”
Martin Nielsen, a student and Navy veteran, organized the event with Aubrey Swett, director of the Office of Community and Civic Engagement and UNCP’s campus coordinator for veterans.
During the event, veterans discussed why they and more than 300 other veterans and active duty service men and women chose to enroll at UNCP. Besides proximity to Fort Bragg, UNCP’s attention to students who serve in the military appeals to veterans. The university was designated a “Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs magazine this fall.
“I learned about UNCP on post at Fort Bragg,” said senior Katie Jo Schmidt. “With an office on base, UNCP was the school that helped me the most.”
Michael Liptrap, a senior, said, “The university has been a blessing in my life. “I’ve made connections here.”
SVA President Shaun Barefoot, a veteran from nearby Maxton, said he followed his wife to UNCP and liked what he found. “The faculty and staff here are great,” he said. “They do help vets make the transition from military to civilian life.”
Senior Rebecca Howell, whose father retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, saw the need for a chapter upon enrolling at UNCP and helped found the chapter. She was honored with the Student Veteran Alumni Award.
“It was clear to me that something needed to be done for vets,” Howell said. “I didn’t know what I was doing when I wrote the bylaws, but we got it approved.”
Howell dedicated the award to her late father.
Dr. Weston Cook, the SVA’s only faculty advisor since its founding three years ago, received the first SVA Faculty Appreciation Award.
For more information, please contact the Veteran Education and Transition Assistance program at 910.775.4438 or email email@example.com.