Gathering in Battell Chapel on Monday afternoon, members of the Yale and New Haven communities joined together for the University’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony, which coincided with the World War I Armistice’s 100-year anniversary.
The ceremony featured remarks from administrators and student veterans who spoke about the value of military service. University President Peter Salovey opened the event, thanking the country’s veterans and underscoring Yale’s long-standing commitment to service. He added that 9,500 Yale students and alumni served in World War I a century ago.
“Yale students and graduates have served with distinction in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War,” Salovey said. “The legacy of service continues today.”
Following Salovey, Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner reflected on the country’s “freedoms and privileges” that are a direct result of veterans’ sacrifices. Lindner said that each of the flags placed in the ground on Cross Campus honors a veteran “important to someone at Yale.”
After the welcoming remarks, the Yale Police Department Color Guard presented a series of flags, as officers marched up the aisle to the stage of the chapel. Afterwards, the Veterans Day Brass Ensemble — which includes Oscar Mason MUS ’19, Eric Rizzo MUS ’19, Ingram Lee MUS ’19 and Jacob Fewx MUS ’19 — played the national anthem.
Christopher Mihok, co-chair of the Yale Veterans Network, also recognized veterans still adjusting to civilian life.
His remarks were followed by Hillary Browning ’20, a former U.S. Navy sailor and the first female veteran in the Eli Whitney Students Program. At the event, she spoke about her personal experiences with discipline in the military — how she was a “nightmare of a junior sailor” and what it meant for her to be worthy of her rank.
Browning also spoke about a close friend from the Navy who recently committed suicide.
“Suicide is a heartbreaking reality in the military community, and I’m sure that’s touched many people in this room,” she said. “Today, on Veterans’ Day, I ask you to reach out to your fellow veterans. Reach out to the ones who look like they may be having a hard time, to the ones who look as if their lives could be going better.”
Paul Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History, spoke about the role of Yale students and the U.S. in various conflicts over the last century. After the playing of taps, Yale Veterans Liaison Jack Beecher SPH ’84 presented the Veterans Day Tribute to Thomas J. Opladen ’66, who co-founded the Yale Veterans Association and played a role in the ROTC program’s return to Yale.
Reverend Harry Adams ’47 led a prayer before the YPD Color Guard retired the flags. To cap off the event, Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly M. Goff-Crews made closing remarks.
“I ask that we give respect and thanks to the many veterans who are here with us today once again as with those who have left us but are not forgotten,” she said. “We are extremely grateful and humbled for their service to our nation, and we’ll remember them, their intelligence, their care and their integrity.”
Members from many different backgrounds joined together at the ceremony to recognize and honor veterans. Jennifer Bode, a Fulbright Scholar at Yale from Germany, told the News she came to the ceremony with a few friends, who are also from Germany, to learn more about Veterans Day in America.
ROTC member Mahlon Sorensen ’22 said, for him, the ceremony evoked a sense of gratitude for the country’s veterans.
“I feel very lucky, very thankful for all of the contributions that veterans at Yale and across our nation have done to defend us and our freedom and democracy,” he said.
The ROTC program returned to Yale in 2012.
Claire Lee | firstname.lastname@example.org