MVRC honors Veterans Day with guest speaker at observance ceremony
By Danielle Brown
The Military Veterans Resource Center held a Veterans Day observance ceremony to honor those who have served and welcomed a retired lieutenant general of the Marine Corps as a guest speaker.
People from every background and military affiliation came to honor the holiday and hear from retired Lieutenant General Duane Thiessen of the US Marine Corps. Marc Churchwell, retired US Navy and director of the MVRC, said he chose Thiessen because his task as a harrier pilot makes him one of our war heroes.
“When I started flying, it was a thrill,” Thiessen said. “But it was also technically and proficiently demanding. I knew I had made the right decision.”
Thiessen was born and raised in Kansas until he was 18 and joined the Marine Corps. After serving for 38 years, he retired and moved to Florida and became the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.
Through the guest speaker’s knowledge of the former and current state of military efforts, the audience was given the chance to absorb the reality that current veterans will be replaced by new ones.
“We are still a country at war,” Churchwell said. “It’s so easy to forget because very few people’s lives were effected by what’s going on in Afghanistan, so hopefully he’ll bring that awareness back to life.”
Thiessen said his goal by the end of his speech was for people to have an appreciation for veterans.
“For veterans, it’s a day that’s far more significant in its meaning than for someone who has had no military association,” Thiessen said. “You take time out of your life, you put on the cloth of a uniform, and you go into one of the military branches and you take an oath of service, which is an obligation. The likes of which, the vast majority of our country has no concept of what that means.”
As part of the ceremony, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Francisco Lopez gave a speech about those who may be prisoners of war or missing in action, followed by a moment of silence.
“This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing,” Lopez said. “The table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against their oppressors.”
Some members of the audience had no military affiliation through themselves or immediate family members, but attended the observance in support of their friends and loved ones.
“It’s a day of respect and patriotism,” said Brittany Hamel from the Division of Research and Strategic Innovation. “We wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t have men and women who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting us.”
This year will be the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I.