NIU honors veterans with ceremony

ROTC students participate in a 21 gun salute during Veterans Day Ceremony on Thursday outside of Altgeld Hall.

By Ryan Griesmeyer and Shaun Zinck

From Nov. 2008 to Aug. 2009 NIU student Sgt. Dallas Full was stationed in Afghanistan for the Ill. Army National Guard.

Every year, Nov. 11 is reserved to honor military men and women like Full who have served the country during wartime.

NIU held its own ceremony to honor veterans at 11 a.m. Thursday. Keynote speaker Eddie Williams, retired captain U.S. Navy and executive vice president and chief of operations at NIU, spoke to a crowd of about 60 people outside Altgeld Hall.

“I would like to thank all of those that have sacrificed to protect our borders and the freedoms we endure,” Williams said. “Each of those sacrifices can’t be measured and should be recognized and honored on this day.”

Full, sophomore finance major, said he still has trouble classifying himself as a veteran.

“I think of veterans as those World War II men,” Full said. “I was a boy scout and would be in the Veterans Day Parade and I remember looking up to them.”

Jose Alferez, senior international policy major and NIU Veterans Club president, said as of this year, there are up to 800 veterans attending NIU.

“We will be getting more here due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill,” Alferez said.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. The individual must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Williams said honoring veterans goes beyond just recognizing them one day of the year.

“We need to allow our veterans the opportunity to move forward with their lives after they have served us,” Williams said. “It is our responsibility to respond to their sacrifices and allow them to resume their role in our society.”

Alferez said people celebrate Veterans Day because without veterans, we wouldn’t have what we have today.

He also said veterans did not join the service to receive anything. They did it to serve their country.

“There have been lots of times I’d go out to eat, and I’d get my meal paid for,” Full said. “I feel that our country does do well by showing they care. Not all of it is needed though, just a ‘thank you’ is nice and I don’t even need that.”

While there are soldiers back home, Williams also said there are still military officials in harms way.

“The task is not done,” Williams said. “All the threats have not been erased and in order to preserve who we are and what we stand for there must be those that are willing to make those sacrifices. Even today there remains a task for men and women to take a stand and protect our freedoms. To these and to all the those past and present that have served we say thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”