Saint Leo Hosts Annual Veterans Day Ceremony at University Campus

November 12, 2014

A respectful crowd of approximately 125 people listened to members of the military pay homage to their own at a dignified, morning Veterans Day ceremony at Saint Leo University. Saint Leo students Ian Alderman sang the national anthem and Genevieve Feiler sang “God Bless America.” She later joined fellow students Sean Morris and Carl Shotwell in a rousing rendition of “God Bless the USA.” There also was a wreath presentation, the playing of taps by Shotwell, and a moment of silence to honor those who made the supreme sacrifice. All current military members and veterans in attendance were acknowledged when their military branch song was played.

The Reverend Msgr. Robert Morris offered the invocation and benediction while Saint Leo University President Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., provided the welcoming remarks. “This is always a special day at Saint Leo,” said Dr. Kirk. “The service of the proud men and women of our military helped defined the USA, and today we pay homage to their sacrifice. We are forever in your debt.”

One of the two student speakers, Cadet/Capt. Jovanny Vargas of the Suncoast ROTC, and current Saint Leo student, said he appreciates veterans in the classroom. “Veterans spark interesting conversations due to their vast knowledge and experience,” Vargas said. “They help engage and challenge others. Cadets really benefit from their interaction with veterans and can always rely on them to exceed the standard.”

Guest speaker, retired U.S. Army Col. Steven Collier, imparted words of wisdom to the crowd. His message was simply to honor the veterans and provide some resources for them. He listed all the major conflicts in which the United States has been involved, starting with World War II, and read statistics of the number who served and the number still surviving.

He asked ceremony attendees to reflect on what they heard today and whom they met. “Our brave men and women preserve our peace and protect our way of life,” said Col. Collier. “We have much to be thankful for, including our safety and security. We also have some challenges that lie ahead, but we are prepared.” He also shared several resource recommendations for which veterans can take advantage.

The second student speaker, senior political science major Nick Lanier, retired U.S. Army staff sergeant, remarked: “the veteran always answers the call.”

“People have always served in times of war and peace. Veterans have a commonality of family, country, and community. As one who experienced ‘some things,’ I like to think I bring a diversity of thought and help educate others.” In closing, he offered what many often wonder: How do you thank a veteran?

“The most appropriate way you can say ‘thank you’ to a veteran is to sit down with them and just listen to their story,” stated Lanier.

Saint Leo University is proud of its continued commitment as a military-supportive institution. The Veterans Day ceremony is a visible reminder of the university’s ongoing respect for veterans and their families.

In a veteran-related event, for the second consecutive year, Saint Leo University partnered with local schools, businesses, and organizations in Two Men And A Truck’s annual “Movers for Military” community outreach program. Movers for Military is a donation drive that collects items and gifts to support veterans and their families living in crisis. The collection drive began on campus in early October and continued for a month. On Monday, November 10, representatives from Two Men And A Truck picked up the donated items, which were delivered on Veterans Day to St. Vincent de Paul Supportive Services for Veterans and Vietnam Veterans of America Tampa Chapter 787 to support homeless veterans.