Veterans Day Celebration memorializes fallen soldiers and commemorates their service


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Dr. David Sam addresses the Veterans Day Observance ceremony

Ian Havemann, Staff Writer

World War I was known as “the war to end all wars.” Although we know today that this was unfortunately not the case. Nov. 8, 1918, the day WWI ended, gave rise to “Armistice Day” (later to be named “Veterans Day” in 1954) to commemorate and honor all soldiers that gave their lives so that the citizens of their nation may live freely.

This Nov. 8, Elgin Community College held a Veterans Day Celebration event in the Jobe lounge to recognize and remember all veterans for their service; 11 were in attendance, including students, faculty, and veterans both retired and on reserve.

Anthony Catella, a U.S. Army Veteran both active and in reserve, gave a speech chronicling the life of a young American WWII soldier who survived the storming of Normandy beach that was D-Day. In the speech, Catella mentions the soldier relaying his wartime experience to his daughter, telling her of the dream he had to return to Normandy to pay his respects to his fallen comrades. Years later, in the 1980s, the soldier’s daughter sent a letter to President Ronald Reagan telling him of her father’s death a few years prior and of her father’s dream to return to Normandy. President Reagan honored her request and allowed her to stand as her father’s representative at the 40th-anniversary ceremony of the Normandy landing.

“My countrymen, it is in stories such as this where we learn that freedom begins in the home and heart of America,” Catella said. “It is in the veteran, telling and retelling of his or her own wartime and experience to friends and family. This weaves into the seams of the American flag, the story that must be known to all of us and that is the story of the American soldier.”

After the speech concluded, veterans took formation and held a short ceremony to retire the colors of the American flag. At this time, any and all students and faculty were encouraged to visit the back of the lounge to write down what Veterans Day means to them. These statements would be put on display next to one another for others to appreciate. Jeff Walsh, an Army and Army National Guard Veteran from 1990 to 2005, shared what Veterans Day means to him.

“If you can read this, thank your ECC teachers,” Walsh wrote. “If you voted last Tuesday, thank your ECC student veterans and the veterans you meet today and in the future.”

Walsh’s statement was meant to remind us, regardless of political preference or standing, that all Americans are on the same side and are unified by the rights and liberty veterans risk their lives fighting for.

A veteran’s difficulties do not stop on the battlefield however. Many veterans seeking to further their academic career may have troubles adapting to and maintaining the student lifestyle. This is something Anitra King, Veterans Service Adviser, is working to ease.

The Veterans Resource Center, located in Building F, Room F-201, is open Mon. through Fri. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offers information, coffee, refrigerator space, locker space and other amenities to all student veterans. King said the purpose of the center is to give all veteran students a relaxing place to mingle, meet and study with other veterans to ensure each student is supported in their own academic goal.

ECC also offers many military-based clubs that veteran students can involve themselves into to meet and share stories with other veterans. These include M.B.U. (Military Branches United), S.A.L.U.T.E. (A Veterans National Honor Society similar to Phi Theta Kappa) and S.V.A. (Student Veterans of America). These clubs meet in the Veterans Resource Center every Tuesday (starting Tuesday, Aug. 28) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to share ideas and plan meaningful events such as the Veterans Day Celebration. Any students interested in additional information may contact King at her email: [email protected].