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A Message on Veterans Day

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Author(s)

Office of the Provost

From the Provost Luncheon

News Speech
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Thank you for coming today to the first Provost Luncheon of the academic year. It’s been a few years since our last Provost Luncheon. I thought it was important to bring this event back as a way to create community between our faculty and staff. These luncheons provide an opportunity to allow us all to hear about and appreciate our colleagues’ scholarly work. Our next Provost Luncheons will be in the winter and spring quarters. I hope you’ll join us.

Many of you know today is Veterans’ Day. A little history--it was originally observed as Armistice Day, recognizing the end of fighting between the Allied nations and Germany, which occurred on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. It was a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I. In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day to recognize veterans who had served in all wars.

I hope that you will take a moment to do three things with me this Veterans Day.

I hope that you will stop and reflect. To pause and remember those who have served in our military. To truly think about the sacrifice that they and their families made so they could serve our country. Some never came back. Others came back changed physically, mentally, or both. But all answered their own unique call to serve.

I’d also ask you to listen. Listen to the veterans whose stories, backgrounds, or beliefs you think you know. So often we have in our minds a certain image of who we think a veteran is—a stereotype, but they come from all walks of life. If you take a moment to truly listen to their stories you might be surprised what you hear. Of course, many joined for love of country or family history, but not all. For some, serving in the military was the only way out of a bad childhood or home life. For others, it was the only way they could pay for school. And for some, it was how they were lifted out of poverty. People just like you and me who wanted better for themselves and their families are called into service for a variety of reasons. Some of these veterans stories are being told right here on campus through the Veterans Legacy Program. Three DU faculty and 21 students dug into the lives of veterans who were foreign-born citizens, DU alumni, women, and relatives who served together--just to name a few. As of today, their stories can be read here. All unique stories, but all called to serve for one reason or another. It’s a good reminder to never assume anything about anyone. You might see parallels between our veterans and the large group of people Cesar is here to speak about today. Immigrants too have a vast array of stories, of backgrounds, and reasons for wanting to come to the United States if only we take the time to listen. Like veterans, so to do immigrants bring so much richness to our community. They seek a better life in a national and global landscape that is increasingly unfriendly.

Which brings me to the third item I hope you’ll join me in: Welcoming. If you welcome and embrace veterans into your community, how much richer it will be! We cannot make assumptions about veterans, immigrants, anyone. We can’t assume that narrative. After all, we seek to be a great private university dedicated to the public good, don’t we?

Today is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Today, let’s think about how we can be more welcoming. Let’s think about how we can listen better. Let’s pause to remember those who served our country and those who hope beyond hope that one day they may have that chance.

Click here to listen to this speech and to hear César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández's speech at the Provost Luncheon.