Veterans Honored at College Ceremony
Moberly, Mo. —Moberly Area Community College honored military veterans at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 on the front lawn of the MACC campus.
The ceremony included the national anthem, played by members of the Moberly High School band and a message from Robert Williams, veteran and MACC Associate Professor in the Teacher Education Program.
After the ceremony, members of the Phi Theta Kappa honors organization served a light breakfast in the MACC Auditorium.
Below are Robert Williams's remarks:
I am humbled by the opportunity to speak this morning. As a citizen soldier my role has been more citizen than soldier. I trained. I was ready. But I never faced what many of my coworkers, many of my students, many of you have faced.
I am proud of my service and yours.
When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. ~Chinese Proverb
The bamboo sprout I want to talk about today is Liberty
Liberty is living without being forced to act or think in a certain way.
Liberty is showing deferential regard for individual civil and human rights.
Liberty is the freedom to act or decide on one's own, without supervision.
Liberty gives others their freedom
Liberty is to be resistant to intimidation, and hostile and destructive actions.
The men and women who planted the bamboo sprout of liberty are our veterans.
Who are these heroes?
George Orwell described them as rough and ready...
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
As of 2013 the Census Bureau described our veterans by the numbers:
There are 19.6 million veterans in the United States.
There are 1.6 million female veterans.
There are 9.3 million U.S. veterans are over the age of 65.
There are 39,890 veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War still living.
What is the History of this day?
November 11, 1918 - The armistice ending World War I begins at 11 am.
My grandfather's service would come to an end and he would return home.
In 1919 - President Woodrow Wilson proclaims November 11 as Armistice Day.
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us, and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
1938 - Armistice Day becomes a federal holiday.
In 1949 my father enlisted.
1954 - President Eisenhower signs a bill changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to include all U.S. veterans.
1958 - Unknown Soldiers from World War II and the Korean War are reburied next to the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
1968 - Congress changes the date of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October in order to give federal employees a three-day weekend. The change begins in 1971.
1975 - President Gerald Ford changes the date of Veterans Day back to November 11. The change begins in 1978.
I enlisted in 1982.
May 28, 1984 - An unknown soldier from the Vietnam War is reburied in Arlington National Cemetery.
Fifty-six years before Armistice Day, President Abraham Lincoln noted on the muddy fields in Gettysburg the heroic soldiers whose sacrifice turned the events of the Civil War to the side of the Union army.
Lincoln said this about commemorations and the attending speeches:
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
On November 11th 1961 at the National Veteran's Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, President John F. Kennedy said:
"I do not believe that any nation in the history of the world has buried its soldiers farther from its native soil than we Americans -- or buried them closer to the towns in which they grew up."
As a student of rhetoric and a fervent supporter of the first amendment I want to close with a quote from Former Georgia Senator and Governor Zell Miller
"For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag."
Today we honor our Veterans.
We honor you.
We thank you for your service.
We thank you for your sacrifice.
We... thank you.