Elon ceremony honors military veterans
Dozens of veterans and active duty soldiers with ties to the university community were recognized in a Monday observance.
They served in different eras and different armed conflicts, in different military branches and with different assignments, but they all shared one thing in common: the flag they defended.
On Monday morning, in a ceremony that was the first of its kind at Elon University to coincide with the federal government’s Veterans Day observance, those very same men and women were recognized and thanked for their service to country.
Led by Professor Matt Valle, a veteran of the United States Air Force, the LaRose Digital Theatre ceremony featured brief remarks, a prayer, a video tribute and a roll call of retired and current personnel from the armed forces and the National Guard. More than 30 current Elon employees were named with those in attendance standing at attention as their names were called.
“To those of you here today who have only distant connections to those who have served, we honor your support, through your presence today, of the ideals of military service, to honor, a commitment to excellence, a sense of duty, and a deep love for this great country of ours,” Valle said in his remarks. “This is a day of remembrance and thanks, for those who have served, in and out of uniform, and above all, for those who have paid the highest price to defend our freedom.”
Elon has played a role in developing leaders for the American armed forces dating to the school’s earliest years when 35 percent of the Elon College Class of 1918 volunteered to serve in the first World War. The institution also served a pivotal role in training pilots for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and the institution welcomed returning soldiers that swelled enrollment and permanently guaranteed the college’s financial stability.
Alumni Memorial Gymnasium recognizes alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, and today a robust ROTC program sends university graduates into the military each spring as commissioned officers.
“Those members of the Elon University community who have served, or are serving, share a common bond, and though the nature of our service is different, we share some of the same memories and recollections,” Valle said. “We served at different times and in different places, but we share a common heritage and a distinctive ethos that binds us together and sets us apart. We have experienced situations that have tested our limits, but did not dent our resolve. We have logged long hours of idle waiting, and occasional moments of sheer terror. We lived a profession where anxiety was our constant companion, and danger an increasingly familiar routine. We have experienced great joy and great loss. And we have willingly borne the heavy burden of responsibility for life and country, and come to know the true meaning of the word duty.
“But most of all, we know honor, and that is perhaps the lasting memory of our shared military service. This is our legacy, and more than any badge, ribbon or medal, we wear it with pride.”
The program allowed attendees to recognize their own veterans. One participant’s grandfather was a veteran of the Civil War and his father a veteran of the World War I.
Those who took part in the observance said they look forward to continuing the program in future years.
“I thought it was beautiful!” said Assistant Vice President Jana Lynn Patterson, who read the names of her father, father-in-law, siblings and nephews who have served in the military. “I hope this becomes a tradition. This is a way for the university to honor our faculty and staff, many of whom I don’t even know.”