For the fifth year, SUNY Fredonia has honored veterans at its annual Veterans Remembrance Ceremony in the Williams Center.
During the ceremony, the Smith-Viggiani Veterans Scholarship, the SUNY Fredonia Veterans Scholarships and the Patriots Award were presented. The ceremony also honored local veterans in the campus and local communities.
"SUNY Fredonia ... thanks (veterans) for the sacrifices they've made, continue to make," Interim Provost Kevin Kearns said, welcoming those to the ceremony.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
SUNY Fredonia Provost Kevin Kearns watches as Junior ROTC cadets present the colors.
Faculty Student Association (FSA) Catering Manager Jeff Walter presented the Patriots Award to Mike Proffer, FSA director of dining services. Walter, a reservist in the Navy, was deployed to the Southern Arabia Gulf with a Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron in August 2011 and returned in June.
"What I'm really here today for is to show appreciation and to recognize the people that supported me while I was away," Walter said. "I know it was hard for me ... but it was more difficult for the people at home, my coworkers that had to cover for me while I was gone. They had to take on additional responsibilities and tasks. I am so grateful for them."
The Patriots Award is from the Department of Defense given to employers to honor them for supporting their employees. Proffer was unable to accept the award and FSA Executive Director Darin Schulz accepted the award on his behalf.
"The challenges that Jeff left were insignificant compared to what he had to do on tour being recalled to active duty," Schulz said.
Walter also dedicated a service flag to SUNY Fredonia. The flag was flown while in combat in Jebel Ali on April 24. Kearns accepted the flag on behalf of the college.
"This flag was flown in your honor, as presented to you on behalf of the men and women of the United States Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard serving our nation ... during Operation Enduring Freedom," Walter said. "Thank you for your support and supporting the men and women of the military."
The Smith-Viggiani Veterans Scholarships were awarded to four undergraduate students in the amount of $5,000 for the academic year. The scholarship fund was set up by David and Lucy Smith, David being a 1974 graduate of SUNY Fredonia and current chair of National Fuel. Scholarships were awarded to Brittany Herbst, a freshman from Holland, N.Y., sophomore Daniel Rowe from Geneva, Junior Brittany Toapha from Monroe and senior Lori Dispenza from Portland.
Recipients must have served in the military or be a dependent of military in additional to meeting financial need and demonstrating academic success. The SUNY Fredonia Veterans Scholarship Fund was presented to senior Mark Mackey.
"Veterans Day is a day of celebrating the service of all the men and women who have served or are still serving our great country," Mackey said.
Mackey is a senior and is currently employed on campus for the ResNet Office as a technician. He is a native of Franklin, Pa. and retired in October 2011 as a First Sergeant in the Army. He has been given many awards including, the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart plus others.
Mackey encouraged those in attendance to honor service men and women for their "profound strength" to wear a military uniform. The majority of those serving in the military today are between the ages of 18 and 30. Those veterans need to be employed and supported by the community, Mackey said.
"Just don't say thank you (to our veterans). Show it," he said. "The world stops in silence to honor (veterans) but they deserve more. Our soldiers are soldiers for life."
SUNY Fredonia currently has 20 student veterans enrolled who have 71 years of collective service and employs 54 veterans who have 669 years of collective service. The college has also been named as one of the top military friendly schools by Victory Media for 2013, Kearns announced.
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