Honoring those who serve

North Dakota State University celebrated an early Veterans day

Flags were raised to celebrate Veterans Day.

On Nov. 8, NDSU’s Veteran Alliance Organization (VALOR) held a brief ceremony recognizing veterans and their families.

At 8:30 a.m., students, faculty and staff gathered in the Memorial Union to listen to Dr. Carol Cwiak, VALOR’s faculty representative, give the opening remarks.

“I want to really thank all of you for coming today to help us honor veteran service,” Cwiak started out.

After Cwiak thanked those who made the event possible, Vice-Provost, Laura Oster-Aaland, spoke to the crowd on the behalf of the administration.

“We especially, today, remember those veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives for our country,” Oster-Aaland said.

Oster-Aaland went on to explain how grateful NDSU is to have VALOR, which is a group made up of staff, faculty and students.

The main purpose of VALOR is to advocate for all veterans on campus by enhancing the climate on campus to help veterans succeed.

Oster-Aaland also mentioned the Bison Veteran Student Organization that has been at NDSU for two years.

She explained that members within the organization are members of all military branches, including National Guardsmen, who are currently serving, retired and active-duty military members along with dependent family members.

“Family members are also to be remembered as they serve as well.”

Koster-Aaland went on to discuss a survey she found which explained that veterans compared to civilians are more likely to volunteer, vote in local elections, work with neighbors to solve issues throughout their community, contact public officials and give to charity.

“I know we all recognize the contributions that veterans and military personal make to our country in terms of the arms forces, but what we sometimes overlook is their active contributions to our communities.”

“Clearly this level of community engagement is of value to NDSU as well and it aligns with our land-grant mission to serve the citizens of North Dakota.”

After Oster-Aaland spoke, retired Marine Master Sergeant John Woolsey gave his commemorative speech.

Woolsey, who served 20 years in the Marine Corps, is now the Director of Human Resources at NDSU and is a member on VALOR’s Advisory Board, a position he’s been in for two months.

After thanking all veterans, students and families, Woolsey asked that everyone join him for a moment of silence remembering those who gave their lives protecting our country.

“We bravely answered the call to serve in the finest military forces in the world and we’ve earned a dignity that comes with wearing a uniform and defending our great flag.”

John Woolsey, retired Marine Master Sergeant and Director of Human Resources

To get to know the audience, Woolsey then asked every veteran and family member to yell out when he called their branch of service.

“Even though as veterans I really don’t personally know you, I may not know your name, I feel that we have common values together,” Woolsey said.

“We all wore the cloth of a nation in the time of need. We are patriots willing to serve for a greater cause.”

“We as veterans represent the very best of America. We bravely answered the call to serve in the finest military forces in the world and we’ve earned a dignity that comes with wearing a uniform and defending our great flag.”

He exclaimed that no matter what war someone served in and no matter how long they served, they left safety behind to protect our country.

Near the end of his speech, Woolsey mentioned that the Marine Corp’s birthday was Nov. 10 and that the Marines started in Tun Tavern, Pennsylvania 244 years ago.

He detailed how he joined the Marines in order to leave his hometown in Connecticut to travel.

Woolsey’s First Company Commander was four-star General James Mattis, also known as Mad Dog, who was also the former United States Secretary of Defense under President Trump’s Administration from January 2017 to December 2018.

“I knew at that time that he was an inspirational leader and I would follow him anywhere. I had many other opportunities to serve with General Mattis during the time.”

To end his speech, Woolsey quoted General William Sherman on his farewell remarks to his army in 1865.

“As in war you’ve been good soldiers, so in peace as veterans, you will make good citizens.”

After his speech, there was a bagpipe presentation of “When the Battle is O’er,” which was performed by Jim Stoddard, Carol Haukebo and Meri Quanbeck.

Proceeding the bagpipe presentation, everyone gathered outside at the flag pole to listen to Taps and watch as the ROTC raised the flag.

During his speech, Woolsey described how Taps for veterans signals the end of the day.

“Maybe you can see why it’s been so appropriately adapted to play at military members funerals as it represents the conclusion of their service to our country and their entry to rest.”

Issac Hicks, a music major, played Taps while NDSU Army and Air Force cadets stood in formation as the flag was raised.

The event was made possible by Vice-Provost, Laura Oster-Aaland, the musician’s, the Army and Air Force ROTC cadets, facilities management, the Memorial Union staff and the University Relations staff.

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