The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month stands as a marker in our history; a date that was to signify the end of the “war to end all wars.” Though conflict continues, the date still stands as the day Americans recognize the achievements and sacrifices that our military veterans have made in service to our country.
Soon after taking the job as your 12th president, Mary Lynne and I attended a play here on campus entitled “civilian.” It was the stunning result of a collaborative effort between the Department of Theatre, the Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History and our Veterans Resource Center. It told the story of six of UK student veterans and their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. More significantly it told of their struggles reintegrating into a college environment.
I was moved by the raw emotion of the production and immediately thought of all the student veterans I’d left behind at UAB that could benefit from such an effort. I knew that after leaving the venue that night, I would never look at veterans the same again.
Today is our national day of recognition of our veterans; I am proud to be part of a university family that honors its veterans every day. UK was recently ranked 7th in the country for veteran friendly campuses, and I’m not surprised. When collaboration is involved for the common good, our ability to honor our promise to those we serve is limitless.
Our campus is home to over 550 student veterans, with hundreds more working within the ranks of our staff and faculty. Their service in uniform may be as recent as a few days ago or it may be a distant memory, but I assure you that it is not forgotten. Their service will be recognized on November 11, at noon outside the Main Building. Veterans can enjoy a free lunch and will receive a lapel pin to commemorate their time in service to our country. I encourage non-veterans to stop by to say thanks and pick up your own lapel pin to show your support.
To all who have served, I thank you on behalf of a grateful campus community.