Veteran’s Day annual CELEBRATION goes virtual
Jessica Guerrucci – Editor-in-Chief
The 45th Veteran’s Day program was held virtually, paying tribute to student veterans through a video featuring President Joe Bertolino, Jack Mordente coordinator for veterans and military affairs and student veteran graduates.
“A veteran is someone who at one point wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America – for an amount up and including their life,” Mordente said in a campus wide email.
In the message, Mordente said how on the 11th hour of the 11th day in November 1921, the body of an unknown World War One American soldier was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in what became the personification of dignity and reverence for veterans. It became known as Armistice Day.
Then 17 years later, in 1938, congress declared it a national holiday. It wasn’t until World War Two when it was realized that WWI was not “the war to end all wars.”
In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill stating that Nov. 11 would be known as Veteran’s Day, one that would honor veterans and acknowledge and thank them for their service.
One graduate featured was Sgt. Stephanie Blazzi, a 2020 graduate with a degree in business. She serves in the Connecticut Air National Guard.
“Being a veteran is important to me because I like to give back to the community,” Blazzi said. “I love what I do. I’m a tactical aircraft controller.”
She said Veteran’s Day is about giving back to the community that serves them, meaning working with Veterans and working with them.
Another student, Cpt. Michael Kuszpa is a 2020 graduate and a candidate for the doctoral program in education leadership. He served nine years in the army as combat adviser in Afghanistan.
“This day, not only do we recognize veterans, we recognize their experiences,” Kuszpa said. “We recognize decisions veterans made to face adversary, to face discomfort, to go ahead and be part of something that is bigger than themselves.”
He spoke about his experiences overseas, and how he had an interpreter with him who helped him communicate with the locals. He said they faced armed insurgents and climbed through mountains to accomplish their mission.
Bertolino said the Veteran’s Center, which was established in 1975 to accommodate the hundreds of Vietnam veterans flooding into college, has been a resource to those students.
“Southern was the only institution of higher learning in the state and one of only a handful in the entire country to have a full time Veteran’s administrator,” Bertolino said about Mordente.
As a result, he said student veterans at the university have received personal attention. Several services, such as the Veterans Drop-in Center have been used by other institution throughout the state.
The center provides counsel, academic advisement, GI Bill and Tuition Waiver Certifications and liaison with state and federal agencies.
Calling the services vital, Bertolino noted the sacrifices being made on a daily basis by men and women, as well as the generation of veterans that came before them.
He said these young men and women have unfailing served with honor, courage and dignity.
“To all of our student veterans, past and present,” Bertolino said, “we thank you.”