On the University Center front lawn on Nov. 4, a cannon fires. Cadets line up in front of the University Center for the flag-raising event. This marked the beginning of a week full of activities planned on campus to honor veterans.
The ceremony began with an introduction from Lt. Col. Erik Walker, who thanked cadets, their families and members of the Lehigh community for attending. He gave a congratulatory announcement of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ (ROTC) 100th anniversary at Lehigh.
ROTC promotes a longstanding tradition of providing a distinctive, two-sided experience for participants, who also remain full-time university students. The program encourages structure, discipline and constructive environments.
With its inception in 1919, Lehigh’s ROTC program was one of the first established in the country, and although it has undergone many transformations since—such as the switch from mandatory service from those physically able to voluntary service in 1961—at its heart, it has retained its core values, according to a Veterans Day brochure handed out at the event.
“To all that have come before you, and to all those who come after you—thank you for making this program outstanding, and thank you for your service to our nation,” Walker said. “Lehigh University has produced thousands of officers in service to our nation—citizen soldiers who have benefitted immeasurably from the leadership, discipline, teamwork and positive environment that the program provides.”
Walker spoke on behalf of President John Simon, marking Lehigh ROTC’s centennial year.
The Leadership Seminar Panel on Wednesday, Nov. 6, entitled “Bridging the Gap: Building Culture, Shared Responsibility and Diversity,” featured Annette Diorio, vice president for campus life at Lafayette College, Col. Kevin McAninsh, the executive director for the U.S. Army’s Strategic Education Program, Dr. James Brennan, a professor of practice at Lehigh University in the College of Business, and Col. Silas Martinez, a former commissioned engineer officer from the United States Military Academy and current U.S. Army War College Director.
Each panelist brought insights based on different experiences pertaining to service. Cadets were encouraged to ask questions. The panel emphasized the idea of service above oneself — giving back to the community despite any difficulties that it may bring upon the cadets — the pinnacle of selflessness.
“We are looking forward to more thoughtful discussion, ceremony and community presence that we hope will increase with the future of Veterans Week at Lehigh,” said Cadet Anna Katz, ’20, an MSIV—the senior position in ROTC.
A luncheon was held on Monday, Nov. 11, to conclude Veterans Week, uniting members of the Lehigh ROTC community with those attending neighboring colleges who partake in the respective ROTC programs at their institutions.
Guest speaker Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke discussed his sentiments on the younger generation’s conception of military involvement in foreign policy, namely, the relationship between military personnel and civilians. The basis of his speech regarded what we can do to bridge the gap between these two groups.
“The Veterans Day Luncheon was a great way to conclude the three events,” said Haley Aversa, a senior cadet in Lehigh’s Army ROTC program and student at DeSales University. “I can’t think of a better way to bridge the gap with the veteran community than sitting down and sharing a meal with them.”