Honor, praise for all in uniform

November 12, 2013

At Northeastern’s annual Vet­erans Day Cer­e­mony, keynote speaker Col. Richard F. Johnson com­mended the uni­ver­sity for its sup­port of vet­erans and said North­eastern is in a great posi­tion to help active duty mil­i­tary per­sonnel tran­si­tion back to civilian life.

As more of the newest gen­er­a­tion of vet­erans return home, Johnson, com­mander of the Mass­a­chu­setts Army National Guard’s 26th Maneuver Enhance­ment Brigade, said it’s impor­tant to let vet­erans put the skills they learned from the mil­i­tary to work. He high­lighted Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial learning model as a way to propel young vet­erans into the work force and public ser­vice where they can make an imme­diate impact.

“Our returning vet­erans deserve the oppor­tu­nity to re-​​integrate back into civilian life with as little dif­fi­culty as pos­sible,” Johnson said. “They need the oppor­tu­nity to apply the skills, knowl­edge and lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence they gained during their time in the military.”

At Monday’s cer­e­mony, mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity gath­ered at the university’s Vet­erans Memo­rial, which is located next to the Egan Research Center. The memo­rial, which was ded­i­cated seven years ago, bears the names of the 289 men and women from North­eastern who gave their lives serving in the military.

Two names were recently added to the wall: World War I vet­eran Ben­jamin William Fuller, Class of 1914, and Vietnam vet­eran William Thomas Cloney, Class of 1969. Mem­bers of both men’s fam­i­lies were at the cer­e­mony and received replicas of the plaques that will go on the wall.

“Memo­ri­al­iza­tion mat­ters,” Neal F. Finnegan, chairman emer­itus of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees, said in his remarks during the cer­e­mony. “We are obliged as a grateful nation to remember.”

Ear­lier in the day, the North­eastern ROTC Alumni Society also held a remem­brance cer­e­mony in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater in Egan, where the names listed on the Vet­erans Memo­rial were read aloud.

“Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to edu­cating its cit­i­zens and its vet­erans mat­ters to America,” Donald Gourley, pres­i­dent of the ROTC Alumni Society, said during the remem­brance cer­e­mony. “Let us use today to rec­og­nize those who fought for us, those we fought along side and what was fought for.”

Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to vet­erans and mil­i­tary per­sonnel extends back to 1950, when the ROTC pro­gram on campus began. At one time it was one of the largest com­pletely vol­un­teer ROTC units in the country with about 2,800 cadets. The cur­rent ROTC for­ma­tion, Lib­erty Bat­talion, includes cadets from sev­eral other schools in the Boston area. About 4,000 alumni who enrolled in ROTC have been com­mis­sioned into the U.S. Army and in other services.

North­eastern has also embraced secu­rity research and made it a top research pri­ority, in addi­tion to health and sus­tain­ability. North­eastern is home to the Depart­ment of Home­land Security-​​​​funded Center for Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-​​​​Related Threats (ALERT) and the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute for Home­land Secu­rity. North­eastern was also des­ig­nated a National Center of Aca­d­emic Excel­lence in Cyber Oper­a­tions by the National Secu­rity Agency.

The Stu­dent Vet­erans Orga­ni­za­tion, founded in 2010, is a sup­port net­work and voice for the more than 100 stu­dent vet­erans on campus. Last year, the orga­ni­za­tion raised more than $30,000 for PSTD and TBI research. Johnson con­grat­u­lated the SVO for being named the 2013 Chapter of the Year by the Stu­dent Vet­erans of America.

“On Vet­erans Day it is impor­tant to remember that the men and women who fought in America’s wars are not vic­tims,” said Adam Beatty, a North­eastern busi­ness stu­dent and pres­i­dent of the SVO, who spoke Monday. “They are reg­ular Amer­i­cans who stepped up to take posi­tion between their country and its ene­mies. Let’s make sure we give vet­erans all the sup­port they need.”

During Monday’s cer­e­mony, ROTC cadets laid wreaths in front of the Vet­erans Memo­rial to honor those who died in each of the country’s mil­i­tary con­flicts since World War I. Johnson and Lt. Col. Blaise Gal­lahue, chair and pro­fessor of Mil­i­tary Sci­ence at North­eastern, laid the final wreath in recog­ni­tion of Oper­a­tion Enduring Freedom.

“Today, we honor those who gave the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in the name of freedom,” Gal­lahue said during his remarks. “They all took an oath to sup­port and defend the con­sti­tu­tion of the United States. Let us never forget the sac­ri­fices of these fallen heroes and of their families.”