Speakers thanked all veterans during an early observance of the day.
By Andrea Moreno
More than 100 individuals, including veterans, students, faculty and staff of this college gathered Nov. 8 at the Victory Center for a ceremony to honor veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Tammy Micallef, director of the Victory Center, welcomed everyone and introduced the 223D Army Band “Fort Sam’s Own” which performed the national anthem.
The Rev. Barry Kowald, who also is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, prayed in remembrance of all veterans from the past and present.
Tiffany Cox Hernandez, dean of student success, spoke about the reason the college observes Veterans Day.
“Veterans Day honors all military personal who have served our great nation and gives us time to reflect upon their great bravery, their courage and personal sacrifice for this country,” Hernandez said.
This college serves more than 3,000 veterans, she said.
Hernandez thanked every veteran for their service.
State Sen. José Menéndez, District 26, said, “I try to always include their families and make it a point to recognize veterans every single time I speak to a group. I feel it’s important that we recognize their service.”
As Menéndez spoke about veteran’s service for the country, he emphasized that every veteran that serves this country is a role model.
“The blood you shed will always be red and the patriotism you experience and exhibit is always genuine. There is no room for false patriotism in a fox hole. You are role models for the rest of us.”
Also speaking was Col. Tom McNish, a former prisoner of war.
McNish said, “Thank god for our veterans and for our future veterans, the ones who wear the uniforms today and the ones who will face the challenges of defending our freedom in the future.”
As McNish argued that the freedom of this country is not free and must be guarded at all times.
“May we never ever forget this freedom we enjoy is not free,” McNish said. “It must be defended every day, for there are those who always are out there wanting to take it away from us.
“So if we, for one second, fail in defending that freedom, the world will become less free. That’s a big responsibility for us and for our country.”
The final guest speaker at the ceremony was Orlando Lopez, liberal arts sophomore and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
Lopez believes any veterans attending this college are in good hands at the Victory Center.
“Here in the Victory Center, there are people in place not only to advise you on the classes, but also to encourage you on your academic walk,” Lopez said. “If they are equipped to handle that, guess what? They will point you to the right direction so you can get the help you desperately need.”
Lopez expressed with enthusiasm over the name of the veterans center.
“My goodness family, this building is called the Victory Center. Do you hear me family? Victory,” Lopez said. “We as veterans know exactly what that word means. We’ve been trained to be victorious in our fight on the battle field and now in our walk here in the classrooms.”
Lopez thanked everyone at the ceremony and thanked all veterans.
The ceremony came to an end as Hernandez and Menéndez thanked and shook hands as they handed out commemorative coins to the veterans in attendance.
Approximately 30 veterans from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard were at the ceremony.