Veterans, ROTC Colonel honored on campus

More than 100 veterans, St. John’s faculty, ROTC cadets, students and staff celebrated Veteran’s Day and honored ROTC Lt. Colonel Brian N. Delaplane at a memorial ceremony in Council Hall on Friday, November 9.

The event usually takes place at the flagpole in front of St. Augstine’s Hall, every year. But because of rainy weather, this year’s ceremony was held inside Council Hall.

Veterans from WWII, Kosovo, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Desert Storm, Bosnia and Iraq were all represented in the reception that brought past, present and even future servicemen under the same roof.

“We’re here today to honor all of our veterans, men and women, here in the United States,” said Joseph Sciame, vice-president of community relations, “and especially our future – our young students.”

Taps was played live as the ROTC presented a wreath in honor of the late Lt. Colonel Delaplane, who passed away on October 9, 2007, as a result of a pulmonary embolism. ROTC demonstrations, music and former soldiers praising the military’s dedication carried on the ceremony.

“What makes this army truly different than any other fighting force,” Lt. Colonel Andrew Lyons noted, “is that this is the first time that we’ve gone to war with an all-volunteer army. And contrary to what you may hear in the media, they can find jobs in other places. They do have other options.”

A St. John’s student began and ended the ceremony with renditions of the National Anthem and God Bless America. Three generations of servicemen chatted and reminisced as they were treated with a full luncheon following the ceremony.
Sciame also used the ceremony as an opportunity to introduce the University’s newest ROTC member, Sergeant Major Jimmy Hammer who served as guest speaker. In his speech, Hammer stressed the dedication and commitment of America’s military.
“No matter what your political affiliation or belief, know that the current and former members of our armed forces have always, and will always represent and defend the American people with honor and integrity,” Hammer told the crowd of veterans, who applauded his words.

“It’s important that we take time to acknowledge the countless sacrifices of our current and former soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines – sacrifices that have been attributed to, and are directly responsible for our freedom, and the overall greatness of our nation.”