University Honors Veterans

Veterans of all ages and members of the student body gathered outside by the Great Lawn to remember all those who have served in the American Armed Forces Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

The event was organized by the Office of Community Relations. Cadets from the University ROTC program were present along with veterans from the American Legion, Jewish War Veterans and Catholic War Veterans organizations.

Joe Sciami, vice president of Community Relations, stressed the importance of remembering the men and women who have served in the military. “We live in a free country brought about by those who are willing to sacrifice it all,” he said. “Today is a day to recognize all those who have served.”

After Sciami’s initial comments the national anthem was sung and a short prayer was said by Father Tri Duong, C.M. Following that the flag was raised and a wreath was placed at the flagpole in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in battle.

Major Joe Pishock, ROTC detachment commander said in his speech during the memorial service that the veterans and the cadets of the ROTC represent the less than 1-percent of Americans who are willing to leave their homes and fight for their country.

Pishock said that taking the time to remember veterans is something that everyone should do this one day a year. He said that that most people think of veterans as the aged members of society, but there are also younger veterans present in the University community.

“We have members in our own ROTC program who are veterans. They’ve already been overseas and fought,” he said. “You could walk past somebody on campus everyday and not even know that they’re a veteran.”

New York Assemblyman Rory Lancman was also present at the ceremony. Lancman is a former member of the St. John’s ROTC program and said that he enjoys the fact that St. John’s remembers veterans every year. “Every year they put on a nice program here,” he said.

Lancman looked over to the cadets of the ROTC and said that he felt pride in the fact that they played a part in the ceremony. “Them being here, they get to see the continuity of their service and that they’ll be remembered when they’re veterans.”

At the end of the ceremony a lone bugle player played the notes to taps. The song was written by a confederate soldier during the Civil War. When the officer was killed in combat his father, a member of the Union, asked for it to be played at his funeral.

Vietnam veteran Kenneth Miktvoch said that the he appreciated that St. John’s was one of the only schools who have a public ceremony for veterans. A former University employee, Miktvoch said the attitude towards Vietnam veterans has changed in the years following the war. “It’s a lot nicer now then when I came back home,” he said. “I mean there were some officers who didn’t want to acknowledge they took part in it.”

Veterans Day has been a national holiday since 1938 known at the time as Armistice Day. It celebrated the end of World War I and was used to promote the cause of world peace. In 1954 the day was officially changed to Veterans Day to honor American veterans of all wars.