Video: KSU community celebrates freedom

Veterans accept recognition for their service during Kent State’s observation of Veteran’s Day on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Photo by Rachael Le Goubin.

Chase Bonhotel

As the morning sun glistened through the clouds over Risman Plaza on Thursday, students and community members gathered to pay tribute to the service of our nation’s veterans.

“Veterans Day is here to remind others that freedom isn’t free and the price each of us pays is different,” said guest speaker Andrew Altizer, senior computer science major, former staff sergeant of the United States Air Force and newly commissioned member of the Kent State ROTC.

The American flag swayed in the background, raised by a joint color guard from the university’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs as President Lester Lefton began the ceremony with warm remarks.

“The main reason we are gathered here today is to recognize all who served in the military as well as those currently serving,” Lefton said.

Lefton proceeded to turn the ceremony over to Altizer, who said the audience cannot forget the millions of Americans who bear the “physical and emotional scars of war” and those who have given their lives to protect our freedom.

During Altizer’s career, he was stationed at Misawa Air Base in Japan, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Africa, and Balad Air Base in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Being stationed in these foreign lands opened his eyes to the freedoms he was fighting to protect.

“I knew then how lucky I was. Even though I was in Iraq fighting, my family was able to attend any church they wanted, they were able to voice their opinions and live their lives without fear of persecution,”Altizer said. “And that freedom is what I was fighting for.”

Altizer said as time goes on and our military gets smaller, Americans move further away from the reality of what our veterans do for us. Nine percent of Americans were related to a veteran after World War II. Today, that number has dropped to 1 percent and is still declining.


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Video by Emily Crilley

“That’s why this event at Kent State is so very important. It brings together a community of people from all walks of life and pays tribute to a select few,” Altizer said. “It reminds us all that without the men and women of our military, we may not have the freedoms we all enjoy.”

As students watched Altizer speak, the expression of enlightenment shown across their faces.

“It was an amazing ceremony, and I’m glad Kent State is supporting Veterans Day,” said Tyler Bodenschatz, freshman aeronautics major and National Guard member. “It makes me happy to see the Kent community supporting the troops and everyone who is currently fighting.”

Altizer said to look closely, everyone can find people in their everyday lives who are veterans. Whether it’s the janitor who served in Operation Desert Storm or a favorite teacher who happened to serve in Vietnam. Veterans are all around us. So, always remember to support and honor veterans, he said.

“When you gather your friends and family this weekend, take a moment to remember the extraordinary things veterans have done so you can do those familiar things that makes life great,” Altizer said.

Oscar Richie Hall is hosting an art exhibit showcasing art influenced by the Iraq War. To read about the exhibit, visit

Contact Chase Bonhotel at [email protected].