Warren, Lacz honor military at Veterans Day ceremony

Members of the Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC Color Guard raise flags during Veterans Day Ceremonies Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.

Ella Abbott

Veterans and active service members alike gathered alongside Kent community members Thursday morning for a Veterans Day ceremony.

The ceremony took place in the KIVA following a ceremonial raising of the flag outside.

Entering the KIVA, guests were encouraged to take small American flags and enjoy refreshments while they waited for the ceremony to begin.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Joe Paydock, a training officer for Kent’s Army ROTC program, emceed the event, which began with a presentation of the colors.

Alexis Hill, a senior music major, sang the national anthem while those in attendance stood at attention to the flag.

Eric Mansfield, the director of media relations and a veteran himself, began the speeches by introducing President Beverly Warren.

“If you’ve served, you find family in the people you serve with,” Mansfield said before introducing Warren.

Warren spent her time at the podium applauding veterans for their service and bravery, reminding those in attendance why ceremonies like this one exist.

“We are free because we have individuals who care and dare to serve,” Warren said.

She went on to talk about Kent’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs and the impact of the people who are part of them.

“I also have a special place in my heart for our own Kent State Air Force and Army ROTC cadets,” Warren said. “I am also in awe of this program. That our participants in ROTC here at Kent State University have served in literally every major U.S. conflict and peace-keeping mission of the last seven decades.”

Following Warren, Kevin Lacz also gave short remarks. Lacz spoke at length Wednesday night about the importance of taking risks in a speech sponsored by Kent’s Division of Student Affairs and Center for Adult and Veteran Services.

Lacz, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, author of the New York Times best-selling memoir “The Last Punisher” and co-star of the Academy Award-winning movie “American Sniper,” spoke about the necessity for services that help reintegrate veterans into the community after their duties end.

“Veterans were not asking to be a part of a special class,” Lacz said. “These veterans simply wanted to partake in the American dream. To live the life they’d fought and struggled for.”

Lacz also talked about the importance of ceremonies such as this that show respect and gratitude to veterans.

“Gatherings like this, today, show that most Americans truly love and appreciate our nation’s veterans,” he said.

A recurring theme throughout the presentation was the reminder that those who choose to serve are not the only people who are making a sacrifice for their country. Speakers also encouraged those in attendance to remember and commemorate the family and spouses of veterans and active service members.

At one point during the ceremony, Paydock encouraged those who have or are currently serving to stand for recognition before offering the same opportunity to any immediate family members or spouses.

“One of the toughest military jobs,” Paydock said, “is to be the spouse.”

Lacz closed his speech with praise for the men and women who serve and his continued pride at having had the opportunity to serve alongside them.

“I am proud to call myself a veteran,” Lacz said. “I am honored to stand amongst you today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life.”

Paydock concluded the ceremony by playing the branch song for each branch of the military and encouraging those who served to stand during their respective song.

Ella Abbott is the fashion reporter. Contact her [email protected].