Saint Leo University plays a major in helping soldiers by offering distance learning and online classes to military personnel around the United States. The university honored these soldiers, as well as veterans, active service members, and military families, in a Veterans Day ceremony on Friday, November 11, in the Greenfelder-Denlinger boardrooms.
The ceremony started at 11 a.m. with a few remarks by Dr. Jose E Coll, the Director of Veteran Student Services. The colors were presented by the Saint Leo University Army ROTC, while the Saint Leo University Singers performed the national anthem. Naval Reserve student Ernesto Andino-Gonzalez led the room in the Pledge of Allegiance, then Father Stephan Brown delivered the invocation, asking for peace and quoting Isaiah 2:4, asking that we may “beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.”
President of Saint Leo University Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr. then made a few remarks about the meaning of Veterans Day to Saint Leo. The Faculty Chorus performed “Song for the Unsung Hero”, then commemorative lanyards were passed out to all veterans in attendance.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Sergeant Larry Kraus of the Florida Highway Patrol. Sergeant Kraus currently works as an agency representative with the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) at the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) in Washington D.C. The Saint Leo student is also a Navy and Naval Reserve veteran. He served on the U.S.S. George Washington in the Reactor Department.
During his speech, he spoke of the attitude most soldiers and service members have. Sergeant Kraus said that most ask nothing in return, only the opportunity to serve their country with courage and honor. He encouraged the audience to take the time to thank those in uniform and pay them the respect they deserve.
The Saint Leo ROTC presented a wreath after Sergeant Kraus’s speech while Taps was played and a moment of silence held for fallen veterans. The Saint Leo Singers performed “God Bless America” before the ceremony concluded.
After the ceremony, a dove release was held in Dempsey Plaza by the “For Those who Serve” statue. According to the program bulletin, the dove release “symbolizes our prayer back to the heavens, and thus to God, for peace. We also pray for the wisdom and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish the end of war.” This concluded the respectful Veterans Day ceremony, while several students went off to community service events that afternoon.