11th hour tribute to honor veterans

By Michael McVey

If you hear gunshots around lunch time on Nov. 11, please relax.

What you hear will be the 21-gun salute to NIU’s veterans who are serving or have served in the military. Zainal “Z” Ahmad, programming coordinator for University Programming and Activities, said the Veteran’s Day Ceremony would be held from 11 a.m. to noon.

Ahmad said he cautioned anyone parked in Lot 10 on Nov. 11 against leaving between 10:30 a.m. and noon, since Castle Drive from Lot 10 to College Avenue, and College Avenue from Castle Drive to Gilbert Drive, would be closed during the ceremony.

Matt Marshall, president of the NIU Veterans’ Club, said the 11 a.m. starting time has historical significance. “Back when they signed the armistice for World War I, they signed it at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month,” Marshall said.

Armistice Day originally celebrated the 1918 signing of the peace treaty that ended World War I, Marshall said. In 1956, the holiday’s name was changed to Veteran’s Day.

“Veteran’s Day is a day to pay homage and honor to past and present veterans,” Marshall said, to distinguish the day from Memorial Day, which honors people who died in battle. Anyone who has served in the military is a veteran, not just those who served in wars, Marshall added.

According to Ahmad and Marshall, there are 273 veterans on the faculty and staff of NIU and about 300 NIU students are veterans. Marshall said about 75 percent of the student veterans took advantage of the G.I. Bill and 25 percent left the military because of recent down sizing.

All three speakers at the ceremony have been in the force, Marshall said. NIU President John La Tourette was a navigator in the Air Force Reserve, 90th Air Refueling Squadron in Topeka, Kan. from 1955-58, Marshall said. Management Professor Al King, faculty adviser for the Veterans’ Club, served in the U.S. Army Airborne and will address the ceremony, Marshall added.

Doreen Hendrix, finance and planning secretary, said Eddie Williams, vice president for Finance and Planning, the keynote speaker, is a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Williams is a campus liaison officer in the Navy Recruiting District, Chicago, located in Glenview. Hendrix said Williams has served since 1980.

The ROTC Honor Guard will be posting the colors at the start of the ceremony, according to the schedule of events. The Honor Guard also will offer a 21-gun salute just before the close of the ceremony.

Ahmad and Marshall said they encouraged everyone to attend the ceremony.