Morning Assembly | Reflecting On Veterans Day

November 10, 2017

Mike Lowe, Dean of Community Life and retired Naval Officer addressed students at Friday morning’s assembly to talk about Veterans Day. He delivered a powerful, personal message, that won’t soon be forgotten. Thank you, Mr.Lowe, for your service, your sacrifice, and for being a strong leader in our community. The transcript of this morning’s talk is below.

“Good Morning, I am honored to have a few minutes to talk to you about Veterans Day. As a member of the History Department, I do feel obliged to first give you a brief history of the holiday before telling you what the day means to me. In 1938, the U.S. Congress passed legislation establishing Armistice Day, a holiday recognizing the end of World War I and honoring its veterans. WWI hostilities were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. In 1954, in the wake of World War II and the Korean War, Congress – at the urging of veterans service organizations – passed legislation changing Armistice Day to Veterans Day and establishing Nov. 11 as a day to honor all American veterans. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, a U.S. public holiday in May; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.

For many Nov. 11th is just another day on the calendar. While the majority of Americans wholeheartedly support the troops, most have never served themselves. Only .5% of the current U.S. population are currently on active duty and roughly 7% of the American population are veterans. As a result, most Americans have little understanding of the sacrifices that service members and their families make to defend our freedom. As a combat veteran myself, I have conflicting emotions on Veteran’s day. The first emotion is Pride. Pride in being apart of something much greater than yourself. Pride in being a part of a team where your livelihood depended on the man or woman to your left or right and them being at their absolute best, and knowing their expectation of you was exactly the same. The reason I did 20+ years of service and multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan had nothing to do with the job, it was 100% because of the people I worked with. While our political system might be in complete disarray and down right embarrassing at times, never lose sleep wondering if our armed forces are up to a task sent down by their civilian masters, as they are always ready, willing, and capable of answering our nation’s call, and if required will die in order to complete the mission. This brings me to my second emotion on Veteran’s day….sorrow. I am deeply saddened by the sacrifices made, lives lost, and families affected in carrying out the missions this nation has mandated that our uniformed service members do. There is nothing more humbling than sitting having dinner with friends one night, only to send them home in a casket 3 days later to a family wondering what if….There is guilt and humility in the reflection of knowing the reason you lived, and your teammates did not, was the helicopter assignment that you got for that evening. And finally, there is no pride, no personnel glory, in sending a young man home in a box at the age of 18 yrs 9 months, and 6 days for his mom and dad to ask you,  “was it worth it.” So when I relay to you during a moment at formal dinner that time and life is precious, and not to waste it, I truly mean it. For many of the servicemembers on active duty today, they have been in and out of combat for almost 17 yrs….more than any time in history. Wife’s, Husbands, children, moms and dads have shouldered the burden of the unknown, hoping and praying that their loved one will return unharmed. I say this to you because there is no doubt in my mind that there are students sitting in this auditorium that one day will have leadership positions within your respective Government. Remember that armed conflict is nothing more than violent means to a political end. Don’t ever waste your nation’s treasure on something that can be settled at the negotiation table, or in the end is really not that important. To all the men and women currently serving, their families, and all the men and women who have ever worn the uniform, I solute you for your sacrifice. Thank you.”

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