Saint Leo University began its Veterans Appreciation Week on Friday, November 8, with a special Veterans Appreciation luncheon and an Honoring Our Veterans ceremony.
The public was invited to join the university community at the For Those Who Serve sculpture for the ceremony, which included a presentation of the colors by Saint Leo's ROTC cadets; brief statements by President Jeffrey D. Senese and guest speaker retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General John LeMoyne; a wreath laying ceremony featuring representatives of branches of the military; and patriotic music by Saint Leo students accompanied by Dr. Cynthia Selph.
LeMoyne, who also spoke at an invitation-only luncheon prior to the ceremony, served 40 years, including combat tours in Vietnam, Panama, and Iraq. He received five awards for valor and the Purple Heart for wounds he received in combat. When the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred, LeMoyne was asked to delay retirement to serve as chief of human resources and personnel for the Army at the Pentagon to help rebuild the team following the attacks. His grandson is a freshman at Saint Leo.
After cajoling his grandson with, "you better make your grades," LeMoyne spoke about leadership and management. "There are two proven pathways to societal growth," he said. "Military service and education."
LeMoyne said he was a college dropout, but his military service allowed him to begin classes again and earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and a master's degree from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
"Google 'leadership' and 'management,' and you will find a lot of the same terms," he said. "The real key is to unlock potential."
He said leaders are born, but everyone has the potential to become a leader under certain circumstances.
LeMoyne said good leadership has many traits, but two stand out—which coincide with Saint Leo University's core values—"One, your personal integrity is sacrosanct," he said. "Lie one time, and you will never be trusted. "And two, treat people with respect.
"Today's generation is the next Greatest Generation," LeMoyne concluded.
At the Honoring Our Veterans ceremony, Senese reminded everyone of Saint Leo's history of educating military personnel and veterans. "We now operate on 14 military bases," he said. "And we just received permission to operate at Naval Weapons Station, Joint Base Charleston (SC)."
Earlier in the day, Saint Leo University's Newport News (VA) Education Center hosted a ceremony for those in the building to meet co-workers, fellow Lions, and veterans while honoring the sacrifices of the U.S. military. The ceremony included reading of the history of Armistice Day; reading of the poem In Flanders Fields; a moment of silence; and refreshments.
Earlier at the luncheon, Senese shared the university's gratitude for its student-veterans and all who have served in the military. "On behalf of a very grateful Saint Leo University, I want to thank you for your service," he said.
Dr. Luke McClees, director of the Office of Military Affairs and Services, introduced members of the Saint Leo community, who represented their branches of the military and placed a wreath at the base of the sculpture. Representatives included: U.S. Army, retired Lieutenant General John LeMoyne; U.S. Marine Corps, retired Colonel Richard "Dick" Johnson, a member of the Saint Leo University Board of Trustees and a 1968 graduate of Saint Leo; U.S. Navy, Noel Boeke, former Saint Leo trustee; U.S. Air Force, Frank Hernandez, Class of 2014, and an adjunct faculty member in the Tapia College of Business; and U.S. Coast Guard, freshman Olivia Johnson, who is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
The ceremony concluded with a blessing by Father Kyle Smith, university chaplain, and a performance of "God Bless America" by student Olivia Callahan and the Saint Leo Chamber Singers.
Veterans Appreciation Week continues on Monday, November 11, with a Veterans Day of Service. There will be no classes that day, but there will be plenty of opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to volunteer in the community.
Saint Leo's Military Resource Center will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 12. The MRC is lakefront in Apartment Building 4.
beyOn Wednesday, November 13, ROTC and the Office of Military Affairs and Services will hold Land Navigation 101 for students. The program will show students the basics of map navigation and challenge their basic map comprehension. This beginner map class will allow students to start thinking beyond pre-programmed navigation systems and gauge their success using time-honored tools.
The observances turn artistic on Thursday, November 14 as students will create photos with patriotic frames and make their own dog tags in honor of a favorite veteran.
At 7 p.m., Friday, November 15, Saint Leo's volleyball team takes on the Florida Tech Panthers in a military appreciation match. Active duty servicemembers, military veterans, first responders, and their families will receive free admission with a valid I.D. Those attending the volleyball match will receive red, white, and blue candy apples, which will be distributed by the Campus Activities Board.
The week will be capped off by the College of Arts and Sciences' interdisciplinary conference on the Centennial of World War I, 1919-2019, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, November 16, in the Student Community Center, boardrooms A and B. There will be three panels of scholars, period poetry, and music addressing the military, diplomatic, religious, medical, mental health, legal, artistic, and economic impacts of the Great War. Information is available at https://www.saintleo.edu/centennial-ww1-peace-conference.
For more information about Veterans Appreciation Week at Saint Leo University or to request accommodations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 588-8992.