Veterans Appreciation Luncheon

Nov 09, 2012

Marywood's Field of Flags to commemorate the lives of our service men and women who have lost their lives since September 11, 2001. There were 6,600 flags placed. Photo by Lisa Casella.

I am so honored to be here with you, and I want to begin by thanking each one of you for your service, so selflessly given on behalf of this nation. Today’s event was made possible by Marywood’s Office of Military and Veteran Services, which is an outstanding addition to our campus. I want to thank the program’s director, Lauren Williams, for coordinating this luncheon and for inviting me to join you. I also want to give special recognition to Deputy Adjutant General of the Office of Veterans’ Affairs in Pennsylvania, Michael Gould, who will join us around Noon.

Veterans Day, first called Armistice Day, has been celebrated since November 11, 1919, a day that commemorated the anniversary of the end World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. At the time, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Marywood was founded in 1915, in the midst of World War I and four years before a day was designated to honor our nation’s veterans and to promote the cause of world peace. Yet, even in its earliest years, Marywood rallied to aid a war-related fund drive, raising $2,500 in 1918—an extraordinary amount for that era. In 1919, four young women from France—our first foreign students—arrived on campus to study via scholarships provided by Marywood at the request of the National Catholic War Council.

In 1939, the Sandy Weisberger Post, No. 1615, of the Jewish Veterans of Foreign Wars presented Marywood with a flag and flagpole, raised in front of O’Reilly Hall (now Regina Hall), in recognition of our efforts in the cause of world peace.

During World War II, United States Cadet Nurses took their liberal arts courses at Marywood, and they continued to be educated here through the years.

By the mid-1970s, Marywood was participating in the Air Force R.O.T.C. program, aimed at students attracted to professional careers as military officers.

In 1994, the Military Family Institute, a symbol of Marywood’s commitment to scholarship and research, was dedicated. In addition to providing major research opportunities for faculty and students, countless military families were assisted by the work done at this institute, which was funded by a major grant from the Department of Defense. Our own Dr. Alan Levine, who is presently Vice President for Academic Affairs, was the Deputy Director of Research at the MFI.

These are just a few examples of Marywood’s commitment to military men and women through the years. The addition of our Office of Military and Veteran Services is a logical and proactive step forward. As more veterans of the armed forces transition from military to student life, Marywood is committed to helping with that successful transition. We are the first university in the region offering these kinds of services for veterans and active service members, but as our history shows, we have long supported the contributions, and, especially, the education of military women and men.

To those of you who are veterans, we appreciate all you have done for this nation. As a Catholic institution of higher education, our best response—one that reflects our mission—is to open the door to educational access for you and provide you with the tools you need to succeed.

You are men and women of great character and integrity, and you deserve the opportunity to build on the service you have given, and, in some cases, continue to give.

Today, we salute you and we celebrate you: for your patriotism; for your love of country; and, for your willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. May God bless you today and each day—especially on Veterans Day. On behalf of the entire Marywood University, I wish to express our deepest thanks.