Veteran’s Day Service honors those who make sacrifices to serve

Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

The very first Veteran’s Day occurred 96 years ago, and was initially called Armistice Day, to honor the end of the First World War. We now celebrate the day in honor of those members of our family, our friends, and our nation who have chosen to serve in the military, and Southern does as well. This past Veterans Day, the annual Veteran’s Day service was held in the Student Center Ballroom.

Opening with an interfaith invocation by Southern’s very own Chaplain, James Furlong, the event began with asking for a blessing on the veterans and current duty members of the military. It was not only asking for healing for those soldiers who have returned injured, but also non-combat members, and peace in the regions where there has been strife.

Giacomo Mordente, the head of the Veteran’s Services office at Southern, began his discussion on Veteran’s Day by distinguishing meaning of the day from another holiday where the nation remembers our soldiers, Memorial day.

“This is the United States 96th Veteran’s Day,” said Mordente, “and many confuse it with our Memorial Day. The difference comes that, on Memorial day, we remember those who fought and died, and pay our respects. On Veteran’s Day though, we honor those who have served, those who are serving, and to underscore and highlight the sacrifices they make every day for us.”

Following this, Mordente asked all of the veterans to stand one by one as he read out their branch of the military and the war they served in. Among the standing veterans were a mix of Southern alumni, current students and local veterans from the New Haven area. One of those alumni, Pat Duff, was asked to say a few words, and shed some light on the history of Southern and their Veteran’s programs.

“I came out of the Navy in 1980, and under Jack’s [Mordente] tutelage helped set up the Veteran’s memorial in front of the library,” Duff said. “In 1981, when the school stopped having Veteran’s day off, we stood in front of the memorial and protested in our uniforms. I truly hope this service, and the work done by the office doesn’t end any time soon.”

After this, Mordente called up a current student of Southern and veteran, Mel Morales, who gave a talk not only on his history in the military, but his life living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after serving in the military.

“I am not only a student, but also a second generation member of the military,” said Morales. “I am also a father, and my son is now the third generation in our family to serve in the military.”

During his time in service, Morales suffered a TBI and now has a visual disability where his vision has a four to five second delay in processing images.

“If I look to Jack, and then to the audience, in my mind I only now see Jack,” said Morales. “However, I do not let this disability get to me in my life. I still attend classes, and though I have had my difficulties, I have persevered over them.”

In discussing his life living with his disability, Morales spoke about not only his own obstacles, but also those of other soldiers returning injured.

“I help in programs that aid soldiers who have returned from battle with injuries, and I help them  improve their quality of life,” said Morales, “The military, regardless of branch, are an elite group of brothers and sisters, and not only do we come here today to commemorate their sacrifice, but to show our care and determination in helping those who return.”

Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor 


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