Veterans Day, University Campus Observance

November 11, 2011

Veterans_1A Saint Leo University student, veteran, and law enforcement officer returned to University Campus to serve as the guest speaker for the annual Veterans Day observance.

Veterans_2Florida Highway Patrol Sergeant Larry Kraus, who will graduate in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, spoke movingly and modestly of his military service. Kraus joined the U.S. Navy out of high school and also served in the Navy reserves. The experience gave him valuable leadership skills that serve him well in his current position, he said. Kraus is currently assigned to the National Counter Terrorism Center in Washington, D.C., as one of the representatives from local and state law enforcement agencies and first-responder agencies. The vast majority of his coworkers today are veterans, he said.

Kraus urged the audience gathered in the Student Community Center to make contact with veterans they meet in everyday life and express appreciation. “You need to go up and shake that person’s hand,” he said, adding, “they’re…fighting for their country and fighting for your freedom.”

University President Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., expressed a similar sentiment. “It is fitting, appropriate and necessary that we honor all of our veterans,” Dr. Kirk said. “We would not enjoy this opportunity to live and learn and work in such freedom and peace if it were not for them.”

The morning ceremony also included a wreath presentation, a moment of silence, the parade of colors, and performances by the Saint Leo Singers (a student choir), and the faculty and staff choir.

Veterans_3In another significant element of the day’s observance, student Christian Nevola asked the university to fly an American flag that was given to him his stepfather, pilot Mark Cuppernull, and that was flown on a U.S. Air Force mission over Iraq on July 4, 2011. The flag was flown at the entrance to University Campus, where new flagpoles have recently been installed.

Saint Leo University is a leading provider of voluntary higher education to the military, veterans and their family members. Saint Leo has been teaching on military bases for 38 years. Teaching locations on or near military bases are now located in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and California. This deep bond is celebrated in the military sculpture For Those Who Serve, installed at our main campus and dedicated on Veterans Day 2010.

Saint Leo University enrolled 4,743 veterans during the past academic year and awarded nearly 700 associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees to veterans. The university also educated 5,026 active duty military and reservists during the course of the last academic year.