Show support for your veterans

Come one, come all to the Northern Illinois University second annual Veterans Day Ceremony. The Ceremony will be conducted on the corner of Castle Drive and College Avenue, and will start promptly at 11:00 a.m. This ceremony is open to all. Whether you are a veteran or not, we encourage attendance. The reason this day is important is to show your support of the veterans. You do not have to support the action of the United States in their military activities or theater of operations they are engaged in, but support the people, support the veterans for doing the job they have been assigned to do. The keynote speakers will be Dr. John La Tourette, president of Northern Illinois University, Dr. Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, and Dr. Al King, professor of Management and faculty adviser of the NIU Veterans’ Club. Members of the NIU ROTC Color Guard and Rifle team will conduct the 21 gun salute.

The significance of the date and time for the ceremony is, as with most other military ceremonies, tradition. In 1918 the Armistice was signed to end World War I—the war to end all wars. Many of the nation’s people were shocked by the destruction and brutality of the war, and in 1926 the United States created a federal holiday called Armistice Day. On June 1, 1954 the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day—the day to honor all those veterans past and present. The distinguishing factor between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that Memorial Day is reserved to honor all those Veterans who have made the supreme sacrifice and given up their lives for the love of their country so that their children and grandchildren may grow up with freedom and democracy for all.

The history of the NIU Veterans’ Club (Vets’ Club) goes back to post Korean War era. At that time, there was a huge influx of veterans coming back from war and entering college. The first records I found on the Vets’ Club dated back to 1956. The Vets’ Club donated the Veterans Memorial flag pole located on the corner of Castle Drive and College Avenue (where the Veterans’ Day Ceremony will be performed). There were about 25 names signed on the ledger

donating the flag pole. Since then the club has had its moments of large memberships, particularly after a major conflict such as Korea and Vietnam. Currently the membership stands at 22 members although there are over 250 veterans attending classes on and off campus. The current Vets’ Club was founded in March of 1992, and has grown from 5 members to the current strength of 22. I have personally watched the Club grow and I am pleased by the number and caliber of people who have joined us.

The Vets’ Club provides a place for college veterans (who are usually nontraditional students) to share a common bond. There are social activities, community service projects, ceremonies that are conducted and an annual Veterans Benefits Night conducted in the spring semester. The Veterans Benefits Night is a time when we have a representative from the Veterans Administration come and speak about the benefits that we are entitled to, and a large group of alumni from diverse career fields that speak on how to better position ourselves in the job market. I also want to add that the alumni support is tremendous! On our last Veterans Benefits night we had about 12 alumni come out on a cold and snowy day from as close as Rockford, and as far as Vermont. We truly are grateful to our alumni for their guidance and support.

In closing, I would like to say that it has been a pleasure to be invited to The Norther Star to be guest editor of the day and to be able to speak to the university on behalf of the Northern Illinois University Veterans’ Club.

The Northern Star encourages members of campus organizations to participate in our “guest editor” program. To find out more information or set up a visiting date please call 753-0117 and ask for Jami, Kevin or Tinamaire.