By MICHAEL ROULEAU
Eastern Connecticut State University
WILLIMANTIC â€” The campus community at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic came together Friday in celebration of Veterans Day.
The heartfelt ceremony featured re-marks by university dignitaries and distinguished guest Lt. Colonel Mark Tallo of the Connecticut Army National Guard.
â€śRight now, from Danbury to Daniel-son, from all of Connecticutâ€™s 169 towns, young men and women are serving to protect our liberties,â€ť said Tallo, who is the director of the Counter-Drug Task Force and a 21-year veteran. â€śToday is a tribute and a celebration.â€ť
â€śOur admiration to those who commit themselves to the ideals of military service should be unflanking,â€ť said Father Laurence LaPointe of Easternâ€™s Campus Ministry.
â€śWe are a nation in turmoil,â€ť said LaPointe. â€śHowever, within the armed forces you find a microcosm of the nation as a whole. There are those from all over the world, from every faith, represented in the military.â€ť
Expanding on the diversity that exists within the armed forces, Walter Diaz, vice president for student affairs, added that nearly 50 percent of the women who serve in the U.S. military are Latina or African American.
A total of 40 percent of the military population overall are people of color.
â€śAbout 3 percent of Americans have served in the military,â€ť said Diaz, who took a moment to thank the hundreds of veterans and active service members who study or work at Eastern. â€śThe rest of us are protected by only a fraction of the population.â€ť
Tallo focused his talk on the origins of this national holiday.
Veterans Day coincides with Armistice Day, he explained, which first occurred in 1918 upon the conclusion of World War I. The agreement, or armistice, was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
â€śMemorial Day is a day of somber silence, a time to remember the fallen. Veterans Day is a time of triumph, a celebration of our vets and the liberties they preserve. Other than Christmas, itâ€™s my favorite holiday,â€ť Tallo said.