Kean honors veterans with Veterans Day Ceremony

By: Keanu Austin

A crowd of students, faculty, and day care children gathered outside in front of Kean’s University Center for a Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 11.

Richard Stewart, a Kean student and president of the Military and Veterans Club, welcomed the crowd and thanked them for attending before he addressed several hardships veterans are currently enduring in the country.

“This is a difficult time to be a veteran in the United States,” said Stewart, a third-generation U.S. marine veteran. Among the difficulties Stewart listed were budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, understaffed hospitals, soldiers coming home wounded and soldiers not getting the treatment that they need. “It’s not an easy time. But we will remain united, and we will stand strong.”

Stewart also encouraged veterans who were non-members of the Military and Veterans Club, or MVC, to attend a club meeting.

“[It’s] a place for veterans who served in the military to come together to once again be around those members who speak the same language they do,” Stewart said.

Dr. Thomas Walsh, a Kean faculty member and retired navy veteran who served for 11 years, reminded the crowd that Veterans Day is a day to celebrate and enjoy freedom. But that freedom comes at a cost, said Walsh.

“[That] freedom is paid for by veterans,” Walsh said, “sometimes by long tours away from their loved ones, sometimes by wounds both physical and emotional and sometimes by their very lives.”

Earlier, Walsh brought up Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and noted that while some veterans may return home without any physical injuries, they are nonetheless wounded.

Walsh also spoke of his father, who he said fought bravely in World War II as an intelligence officer.

The ceremony came to an end after Jennifer Fernandez, vice president of the MVC, presented an award to Keri Wanner, a Kean Alumni who lead the day’s event as its Master of Ceremony.

Gabrielle Ardolino, a Kean student, sang “Amazing Grace” at the ceremony’s start, “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the ceremony’s midpoint and “God Bless America” at the ceremony’s end.

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