Veterans honored and remembered at Northeastern

At a Vet­erans Day Cer­e­mony at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity on Monday, U.S. Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity Janet Napoli­tano called on all Amer­i­cans to rec­og­nize the vet­erans who have served their nation. In recent weeks, the sec­re­tary said, U.S. veterans—as well as national guardsmen and fed­eral officials—have also made their pres­ence felt on Amer­ican soil in response to Hur­ri­cane Sandy.

Napoli­tano said she has been deeply moved by the effort. Vet­erans, she said, have rushed to hand out meals to fam­i­lies in need, mem­bers of the coast guard have make hun­dreds of rooftop res­cues and Depart­ment of Defense offi­cials have flown in utility crews to impacted areas.

“We saw vet­erans in action,” Napoli­tano said. “We see it in person every day.”

It is in that spirit of sac­ri­fice, Napoli­tano said, that vet­erans from North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and across the country should be hon­ored on Vet­erans Day.

President Joseph E. Aoun and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano lay a wreath in honor of veterans who lost their lives in Operation Enduring Freedom.

At the cer­e­mony, mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity came together to honor those vet­erans at the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Vet­erans Memo­rial, which is located adja­cent to the Egan Research Center on Neal F. Finnegan Plaza. The memo­rial, which was ded­i­cated six years ago, bears the names of those men and women from North­eastern who have given their lives serving America.

In his remarks, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun praised the university’s stu­dent vet­erans, whom he called “real leaders in our com­mu­nity.” He also sin­gled out one of Northeastern’s ROTC cadets, Patrick Lupfer, who was recently ranked No. 1 out of 5,579 senior cadets on the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s National Order of Merit List.

“We are very proud of our tra­di­tions,” Aoun said, noting Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to vet­erans. He also rec­og­nized the more than 4,000 alumni who enrolled in ROTC and have been com­mis­sioned into the U.S. Army and in other services.

Aoun noted that higher edu­ca­tion has tra­di­tion­ally been wary of pur­suing secu­rity research, but added that North­eastern has embraced this approach, making secu­rity one the university’s top research themes along with health and sus­tain­ability. This has led to the cre­ation of the university’s DHS-​​funded Center for Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-​​Related Threats (ALERT) and the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute for Home­land Secu­rity. North­eastern has also been des­ig­nated by the NSA as a National Center of Aca­d­emic Excel­lence in Cyber Oper­a­tions.

Ear­lier this year, Aoun was named to a new aca­d­emic advi­sory council that reports directly to Napoli­tano and exam­ines how uni­ver­si­ties can con­tribute to America’s national secu­rity efforts.

Michael Trudeau, ’13, pres­i­dent of the Stu­dent Vet­erans Orga­ni­za­tion, served as the event’s master of cer­e­monies. In opening remarks, he noted that vet­erans are always ready to heed the call of duty, a trait that makes them great job can­di­dates at home and fix­tures in their com­mu­ni­ties through ser­vice and many other ways.

Trudeau said that most of the nation’s newest vet­erans were in high school when the ter­rorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people.

“Many put their indi­vidual lives on hold to pro­tect the Amer­ican people to secure our home­land. How­ever, what sets this gen­er­a­tion apart is that we are an all vol­un­teer force,” Trudeau said. “While it’s still too early to spec­u­late how his­tory will per­ceive us, one thing is cer­tain: If there’s a job that needs to be done, or if there is someone in need, a vet­eran will always ask, ‘How can I help?'”

Lt. Col. Blaise Gal­lahue, chair and pro­fessor of mil­i­tary sci­ence who joined North­eastern in August, noted the more than 21 mil­lion living vet­erans in the United States who served since World War I and the 1.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans cur­rently serving on active duty. He called Vet­erans Day a great tribute to them for their extra­or­di­nary efforts to defend their fellow cit­i­zens’ lib­er­ties, the Con­sti­tu­tion and their country.

“They stood tall in the face of grave danger and enabled our nation to become the greatest force for freedom in human his­tory. Our country is for­ever indebted to our vet­erans for their exem­plary ser­vice and quiet courage,” Gal­lahue said. “We remember and honor those who laid down their lives in freedom’s defense. These brave men and women made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice for our ben­efit. On Vet­erans Day, we remember those heroes for their valor, their loy­alty and their dedication.”

Later in the cer­e­mony, Aoun and Napoli­tano joined John R. Power Jr., BA’63, a long­time member of the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity ROTC Alumni Society who served 30 years in the U.S. Army, in rec­og­nizing three fallen vet­erans whose names were added to the university’s Vet­erans Memo­rial this year: Francis (Frank) W. Cur­tain, U.S. Army, Class of 1936; Robert Louis Curry, U.S. Marine Corps, Class of 1967; and Alfred Leonard Tripp, U.S. Marine Corps, Class of 1963. Their names were uncov­ered thanks to the research efforts of the ROTC Alumni Society.

To the fam­i­lies of those vet­erans present at the cer­e­mony, Napoli­tano said, “We will never forget the sac­ri­fices made by your loved ones, and that all of our men and women in uni­form make on a daily basis.”

ROTC cadets also 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. Aoun and Napoli­tano laid the wreath in recog­ni­tion of the latest con­flict, Oper­a­tion Enduring Freedom.

Ear­lier in the day, the North­eastern ROTC Alumni Society and the Stu­dent Vet­erans Orga­ni­za­tion held another remem­brance cer­e­mony in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater in the Egan Research Center, where the names listed on Northeastern’s Vet­erans Memo­rial were read aloud.

The uni­ver­sity has hosted an ROTC pro­gram on campus since 1950 and 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 schools in the Boston area.

As part of her visit to campus, Napoli­tano also met with Aoun, uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship and fac­ulty to dis­cuss Northeastern’s secu­rity research pro­file and tour the ALERT Center, where researchers are devel­oping state-​​of-​​the-​​art secu­rity tech­nolo­gies in areas such as explo­sives detec­tion and air­port security.