WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/10/2017) Written by Michael Rouleau
The campus community at Eastern Connecticut State University came together on Nov. 10 in celebration of Veterans Day. The heartfelt ceremony featured remarks by university dignitaries and distinguished guest Lt. Colonel Mark Tallo of the Connecticut Army National Guard.
"Right now, from Danbury to Danielson, from all of Connecticut's 169 towns, young men and women are serving to protect our liberties," said Tallo, who is the director of the Counter-Drug Task Force and a 21-year veteran. "Today is a tribute and a celebration."
"Our admiration to those who commit themselves to the ideals of military service should be unflanking," said Father Laurence LaPointe of Eastern's Campus Ministry.
"We are a nation in turmoil," said LaPointe, acknowledging today's political and social divides. "However, within the armed forces you find a microcosm of the nation as a whole. There are those from all over the world, from every faith, represented in the military."
Expanding on the diversity that exists within the armed forces, Walter Diaz, vice president for student affairs, added that nearly 50 percent of the women who serve in the U.S. military are Latina or African American. Forty percent of the military population overall are people of color.
"About three percent of Americans have served in the military," said Diaz, who took a moment to thank the hundreds of veterans and active service members who study or work at Eastern. "The rest of us are protected by only a fraction of the population."
Tallo focused his talk on the origins of this national holiday. Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day, he explained, which first occurred in 1918 upon the conclusion of World War I. The agreement, or armistice, was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
November 11 is not to be confused with Memorial Day, emphasized Tallo. "Memorial Day is a day of somber silence, a time to remember the fallen. Veterans Day is a time of triumph, a celebration of our vets and the liberties they preserve. Other than Christmas, it's my favorite holiday."
Eastern is the state of Connecticut's public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,400 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut's 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 29 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Eastern has been awarded "Green Campus" status by the Princeton Review seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.