On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the first world war ended when the German government signed a truce with the U.S., Great Britain, France and other allies. The one-year celebration of culmination of the “war to end all wars” was declared Armistice Day by then-President Woodrow Wilson and celebrated as a national holiday each year.
Now better known as Veteran’s Day, the day allows for the honoring of all those who serve or have served in the military.
At Lehigh, the event has included a luncheon in the Asa Packer Room that is attended by active, reserve and retired military veterans – a traditional observance that is organized each year by Frank Gunter, associate professor of economics and retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
For the first time, this year’s observance of Veteran’s Day will also include a ceremony by the flagpole in front of the University Center at 4:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11th. Performing at the program will be the Marching 97 band.
“Celebrating Veteran's Day on campus allows an opportunity to educate our cadets on the value of service to their nation,” said Erik Hilberg, Lt. Col., U.S. Army, and chair of the department of military science and leadership at Lehigh.
“All service members are lifetime members of the team. Once someone joins a branch of the military they are part of that organization's legacy, traditions, customs and courtesies for life. The event we are planning at Lehigh celebrates that service, camaraderie and commitment to our fellow veterans.”
Lehigh’s committee to organize a more expansive Veteran’s Day observation that would draw more members of the campus community began in late spring, according to Erik Walker, Lt.Col. in the U.S.Army for 20 years and now chief of staff in the president’s office at Lehigh. Walker previously served stateside and in Germany and one tour of duty in Iraq.
In addition to Walker, Gunter and Hilberg, other committee members included Henry Odi, vice provost for academic diversity and chair of the committee; Van Dobson, associate vice president of facilities and campus planning; Robert Wolfenden, assistant vice president of advancement; Michael Spear, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and Anne Anderson, associate professor of finance and Joseph R. Perella and Amy M. Perella chair, who is on sabbatical this semester.
“I truly appreciate that Lehigh is pausing to recognize the many millions of American women and men who have served and continue to serve their country today,” says Dobson, a retired captain who spent nearly 25 years as a Navy Civil Engineering Corps Officer in Guam, Mississippi and Hawaii. “The sight of the American flag immediately brings to mind the many who go in harm's way every day for our freedom.”
Odi said that it is the committee’s intent to make the flagpole ceremony, which Spear is chairing, an annual event at Lehigh. The celebration is also being supported by Student Auxiliary Services under the leadership of David Joseph, and the Office of Academic Diversity.
“The celebration is a thank you to all who have served this great country of ours is very important to Lehigh,” Odi said.
Story by Linda Harbecht
Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013