Kent State honored current and past military service members in a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 10. In return, the Ohio Committee for Employer Support honored the university for its support of employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserve.
The event’s featured speaker, retired Army Maj. Gen. David Hartley, awarded Kent State President Carol Cartwright the State Chairman’s Above and Beyond award. Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president of Human Resources, and Provost Paul Gaston accepted the award in Cartwright’s absence.
Hartley, who spoke about the importance of employers supporting guardsmen and reservists, commended the university for the work it has done.
“Kent State is on the leading edge of educational institutions in the state of Ohio in developing those policies that encourages participation and provides support when their employees are called to active duty away from their spouses, families, friends and their loved ones,” Hartley said.
During his presentation, Hartley also had Pizzuto sign a letter asking the university to pledge continuous support of its employees serving in the Reserve and the Guard, cooperate and encourage employee participation in the Guard and the Reserves and to follow existing laws regarding employing reservists and guardsmen.
Gaston also spoke at the event and said it is important on Veterans Day to not only look to the past, but to the present and show appreciation to those who have dedicated themselves to preserving the freedoms we enjoy.
“Different views about the priorities of a particular conflict must not obscure an important conviction,” Gaston said. “Those engaged in conflicts as American combatants deserve and depend upon our admiration, our gratitude and our support.”
Gaston also recognized the cadets in the ROTC and their educators for their commitment to the future of the country.
“The country’s future depends on those who are willing to shoulder the obligations our veterans have met and continue to meet,” Gaston said.
In addition to the speakers, the ceremony included a presentation of colors by Air Force and Army ROTC cadets, singing of the national anthem by Kjera Melton, an admissions counselor, and a prayer.
The master of ceremonies, Maj. Joe Paydock, admissions officer for the Army ROTC, also recognized Kent State faculty and staff that have recently deployed or are currently deployed.
Russell Galeti, senior history and political science major who spent 10 months in Iraq, said he enjoyed the ceremony.
“It was very nice to see them honor veterans separate from the politics because these people have done their job, and they had no part in creating the policies,” Galeti said.
Leah Cohen, junior sociology major and Kent State Anti-War Committee member, said she attended the ceremony with several other members of the committee to honor veterans.
They protested the possible expulsion of Dave Airhart, a veteran and Kent State student who she said could possibly be expelled for his behavior on an Army recruitment rock wall.
“We were here to support the troops and to call the administration out on them saying they support the vets, even though they are trying to expel one,” said Cohen.
Cohen said by trying to expel Airhart, Kent State’s administration isn’t supporting his right to free speech.
Committee members held signs throughout the ceremony that stated “veterans deserve free speech” and “support vets, don’t expel them.”
Galeti had mixed feelings about the protest by the Anti-War Committee.
“It makes me happy because it’s great to show in this country you can even protest at a Veterans Day function, and it’s perfectly okay,” Galeti said. “Part of it did upset me, but part of me sees the bigger picture that it’s their right, and that’s what veterans fought for.”
Contact ROTC reporter Katherine Colucy at [email protected]