In a time when people in this world are fighting for a place to call their own and people are escaping their countries to live the life they wish, the American people are taking as long as they must to make sure they get to choose who will run their country. On Friday, St. John’s University celebrated Veteran’s Day to honor American GI’s who have served to defend the American freedom.
Dozens of observers, including administrators, faculty, students and members of the surrounding community, gathered outside St. Augustine Hall Friday morning to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines who have served our nation throughout history.
“I think it’s only appropriate that we say thank you for giving your life for this country,” said Cadet Sgt. William Horowitz of the ROTC. “Thanks for your patriotism and we respect you for that.”
This was the third consecutive year that ceremonies were held at St. John’s for Veteran’s Day. Vice President for Government and Community Relations Joseph Sciame headed the ceremony, which included speakers Lt. Corneal Campos of the ROTC, Father Doer, and Councilman Morton Povman of Forest Hills.
Povman summed up the mood of the evening by saying, “Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance” and that it “should be thought of in a positive vein to honor all of our veterans.”
The mood of this year’s ceremony was a bit more somber than that of the previous two, as the 17 crewmen who died on board the USS Cole were memorialized. Representatives of the St. John’s community added 17 red carnations to the wreath in memory of the victims as their names were read aloud.
Campos spoke of the lesson to be learned from Veteran’s Day. “The key value today is the idea of selfless service. If you ask a vet today what he did, he will tell you that he was in the service.”
One of the many veterans on hand for the ceremony was Al Mancini, who served as an Army specialist in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. While Mancini appreciated being recognized, he did not fight for recognition, as Campos pointed out he was doing a selfless service.
“We should be recognized,” said Mancini. “A lot of guys gave their lives, a lot of guys like me just did our jobs.”