College celebrates Veterans Day with week of events

by Megan Clyne | 11/8/15 9:14pm

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The College held a ceremony in honor of Dartmouth-affiliated Veterans on Memorial Field for Veterans Day.
by Eliza McDonough / Eliza McDonough/The Dartmouth Senior Staff

At a solemn Friday night ceremony at the College’s Memorial Field, a 12th plaque was added to celebrate the achievements and sacrifices of Dartmouth-associated veterans in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dartmouth will celebrate Veterans Day until Wednesday, including a banquet, flag raising ceremony and ball.

“Dartmouth really focuses students’ attention on Veterans Day,” Chase Gilmore ’16, a member of Dartmouth’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, said. “It makes a whole week out of it instead of just celebrating Veterans Day on the day itself.”

Veterans Day observances commenced at the College with a dedication of a new plaque at the Veterans Memorial at Memorial Field on Nov. 6, according to the College’s website.

The Veterans Memorial consists of a series of plaques set up to honor alumni who served in each American overseas conflict since the first World War. The earliest plaque — honoring World War I veterans — was placed by alumni who had fought in the Civil War. Since then, 11 plaques have been placed to honor the military service of anyone affiliated with Dartmouth in subsequent conflicts. A sculpture was also dedicated by a group of alumni from Sphinx senior society to honor Dartmouth alumni who served in the armed services.

Darren Sumter — a United States Military Academy graduate and AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot during the First Gulf War — said Veterans Day has a national impact, particularly for the veterans it honors.

“Veterans Day is just a good thing,” he said.

Following the dedication of new plaques at Memorial Field, the Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association, Dartmouth Uniformed Service Alumni and the Rockefeller Center hosted the College’s fourth annual Veterans Banquet at Collis Common Ground. The purpose of the military-style banquet is to foster relationships among military veterans and Dartmouth students, faculty, alumni and staff.

Author, attorney and activist Kathy Roth-Douquet spoke at the banquet on Nov. 7. Roth-Douquet, the co-author of “AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from the Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country” and “How Free People Move Mountains,” has been a Democratic activist and government official at the White House and federal Defense Department. Roth-Douquet is also chief executive officer of Blue Star Families, an organization that provides support to military families.

During this event, DUSA presented Rand Beers ’64 with the third annual James Wright Award for Distinguished Service, named for former College President James Wright. Beers served as an officer and commander in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War before serving as President Barack Obama’s deputy assistant for homeland security, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, director of the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the department and assistant Secretary of State for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

The 240th Marine Corps Birthday Ball was held at the Hanover Inn on Sunday to honor the U.S. Marine Corps’ foundation in 1775. Master Gunnery Sergeant Warren Coughlin — a veteran of both Gulf Wars, the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia and the war in Afghanistan — was the guest of honor. Proceeds from the ball went to the Semper Fi Fund and Project VetCare, two organizations dedicated to supporting veterans and their families.

Project VetCare will host its annual Veterans’ Symposium at Hanover High School on Monday and Tuesday. The symposium brings veterans into contact with high school students and community members who can learn about war experiences first-hand.

On Veterans Day this Wednesday, the Dartmouth ROTC will raise the campus flag on the Dartmouth Green in a full Reveille Ceremony. The ceremony is a way to honor the veterans who have come before and is an event in which College administrators, professors, students and former military personnel alike are deeply involved, Gilmore said.

Later that morning, there will be a Veterans Day Remembrance Breakfast honoring Dartmouth-affiliated veterans at the Hanover Inn hosted by College chief human resources officer Scot Bemis.

The final commemoration will be the Veterans Day Retreat and Drill Ceremony on Wednesday. In late afternoon, the Baker Bells will begin playing the Hymns of Services, and the Dartmouth ROTC will lower the campus flag on the green.

Jonathan Griffith ’15 — the tactical intelligence officer at the Rhode Island National Guard — said that many people do not realize the strong veteran presence at Dartmouth. According to Griffith, Veterans Day is one of the few times a year when the campus comes together to honor veterans.

Connecting with veterans can be important for students who might not otherwise get to interact with such individuals, Griffith said.

Dartmouth does a good job of celebrating Veterans Day, honoring veterans and recruiting veterans to come to Dartmouth as students, Gilmore said. Few colleges make such a major effort to do so, he said.

“There is a strong respect for veterans here,” Gilmore said.