Saint Leo University Celebrates Veterans Day with Annual Ceremony

November 11, 2015

A respectful crowd of approximately 150 people listened to a high-ranking officer of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and other members of the military pay homage to their own at a dignified Veterans Day ceremony at Saint Leo University. Todd Burnap, a Saint Leo University ROTC student, sang the national anthem, and Saint Leo student Jennifer MacDonald sang “God Bless America.” She later joined fellow students of the Saint Leo Chamber Singers and the Saint Leo faculty singers, Just the FACTS, in a rousing rendition of “Song for the Unsung Hero.” There also was a wreath presentation by the Saint Leo University U.S. Army ROTC, the playing of taps by Ralph Sailer, 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 songs were played. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Tedd “Gunny” Weiser, interim director of Veteran Student Services.

Father Stephan Brown, SVD, assistant to the president, University Ministry, offered the invocation and benediction, while Saint Leo University President Dr. William J. Lennox Jr. provided the welcoming remarks. “One-third of our student population are veterans, active duty, or military families,” said Dr. Lennox. “We will continue to be dedicated to the mission of educating the proud men and women of our military. Always keep these great servants in mind and prayer.”

Guest speaker Major General James S. Hartsell, USMC, mobilization assistant to Commander U.S. Pacific Command, whose son Evin is a senior psychology major at Saint Leo, imparted words of wisdom to the crowd about the importance of thanking a veteran. “Freedom is not free. The dream of liberty, justice, and equality are all things we take for granted,” remarked Major General Hartsell. “They are blessings that are bestowed on us and should never be assumed.”

His message was simply to thank and honor veterans for their service and sacrifice. He asked ceremony attendees to celebrate those who live and reflect on those who didn’t. “The precious gift of freedom is fragile,” he stated.

“Veterans Day pulls our nation together and we join as Americans to be better citizens and take pride in our country,” said Major General Hartsell. “Remember to thank a veteran.”

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.