Kristina Kim

The Yale and New Haven communities gathered this weekend to honor veterans and current soldiers on Friday at Veterans Day events.

Members of the Yale community convened in Woolsey Hall to honor current students and alumni for their service. On Saturday, New Haven held a Veterans Day ceremony at the Center Church to commemorate those who have fallen to celebrate those who have served.

At the Yale event, speakers President Peter Salovey and Secretary Kimberly Goff-Crews discussed the importance of remembrance and emphasized Yale’s commitment to military service. Rob Henderson ’18, who served in the Air Force from 2007 to 2015, shared his experience with the Warrior Scholar Project and Eli Whitney Students Program, which allowed him to continue his education when he returned from service. Amanda Lloyd ’19, a cadet in Air Force ROTC, received the Gold Valor Award for rescuing five people caught in a strong current at a lake in northern New York state this past summer.

At the New Haven Veterans Day celebration, former army captain Charise Hewitt, a New Haven native who served for eight years, shared what Veterans Day means to her and urged the nation to fulfill the obligation to veterans. Mayor Toni Harp and Senator Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., emphasized the necessity for better welfare programs to help the veterans. A wreath-laying ceremony on the World War Memorial on the New Haven Green followed the service.

“Veteran’s Day, most importantly, is a day to remember what we experienced and share our stories with the next generation in hopes that they will want to join the military and continue our mission,” Hewitt said. “On this day, we must also renew our national promise to renew our obligations to veterans.”

At the Yale event, Salovey and Goff-Crews emphasized the sacrifice of all veterans and discussed Yale’s historic role in cultivating and supporting them. They both urged everyone to recognize that the freedom and security we enjoy is only possible because of the veterans.

“Throughout history, Yale has been home to men and women who have dedicated their lives to service of this country,” Goff-Screws said. “We are honored to have students and alumni who have served and who are preparing to serve. Than you all for being you.”

Henderson shared how his participation in Warrior Scholars Project, an academic workshop started by Jesse Reising ’11 that helps veterans transition into colleges, motivated him to pursue education after leaving the military. Henderson is a beneficiary of the Eli Whitney Students Program – which provides Yale education for individuals whose education was interrupted – and is majoring in psychology. Despite having a difficult childhood due to his family’s poverty, military service and the generosity of Yale College helped him discover a way to happiness, Henderson said.

The event concluded with the presentation of the Gold Valor Award for Lloyd, who was recognized for her heroism in rescuing five people at South Sandy Creek in New York this summer. Lloyd joined Air Force ROTC during her sophomore year at Quinnipiac University, and began her junior year at Yale as a transfer student this September.

At the New Haven Ceremony, Hewitt and many other veterans, including former Corporal James Namnoun and former Master Sergeant Paul Stetson, shared what their military experiences were like and what Veteran’s Day means to them. Retired Colonel Kenneth Gertz explained the historic ties between New Haven and the military, noting the hundreds of New Haveners who volunteered and lost their lives in the world wars.

At the event, many expressed their gratitude for the veterans artistically. Soloist Ruth Rosa sang the national anthem and “God Bless America,” and the Unity Boys Choir performed a few songs. Namoun recited “In Flanders Fields,” a poem on World War I by John McCrae.

Senator Blumenthal said that Veterans Day is particularly special for him because he and his sons served in the Marine Corps. He emphasized the necessity of expanding welfare programs to better support the veterans.

“Freedom is never free. Words are cheap, but the action is what’s important,” Blumenthal said. “These men have kept us free. We must recommit to provide them the jobs, skill-training, homes and health care to make their transition as seamless as possible.”

The event was followed by a wreath-laying service on the World War Memorial and flagpole on the New Haven Green.

Kevin Reynolds, a New Haven resident who served in the military from 1978 to 1984, told the News that the ceremony made him feel prouder of his time in the military.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult because Veteran’s Day seems to mean less and less,” Reynolds said. Events like this remind me that there are people around the nation who thank me for my service.”

Yale veterans and members of the ROTC expressed their gratitude for the University for their support for those who are serving or have served in the military. Tom McCarthy, the Commander of Yale’s Air Force ROTC, told the News that Yale has done an outstanding job in supporting their veterans.

“I saw flags all around the campus this morning,” McCarthy said. “That recognition of the selfless sacrifice means so much not only for the veterans but also for their families and friends. Yale’s pride in its students, alumni, faculty and staff who have served or are planning to serve is very apparent.”

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu