By ELIZABETH MACAULEY
Chronicle Staff Writer
STORRS â€” Veterans Day has been a symbolic day for the past century for recognizing those who have devoted their lives to our country and the freedoms we all know and enjoy.
To recognize veterans this year, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., joined the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs at the University of Connecticut for the universityâ€™s annual Veterans Day ceremony Friday morning.
â€śItâ€™s the honor of my life to serve this great state thatâ€™s been so intertwined in the armed forces,â€ť Murphy said. â€śConnecticut has really been at the heart of the story of our nationâ€™s military.â€ť
Connecticut was an essential part of our countryâ€™s origins, Murphy said.
â€śItâ€™s important to remind this country and, especially, younger generations, that the blanket of freedom they have has not come without enormous sacrifice,â€ť Murphy said. â€śFor every soldier killed in Afghanistan, 16 others come home with wounds that would have killed them in previous wars.â€ť
The nation needs a bigger commitment to physical wounds, post-traumatic stress disorder and other brain injuries, Murphy said. â€śPTSD and brain injuries are happening more and more,â€ť Murphy said. â€śWe need to give care earlier than ever before.â€ť
Murphy also emphasized the importance of remembering that soldiers are currently deployed all over the world for our country.
â€śWe have Americans all over the world fighting a shadowy enemy that is much different than enemies we have had before,â€ť Murphy said. â€śItâ€™s also important to remember that we have 1 percent of Americans fighting to protect the other 99 percent.â€ť
Veterans Day is also about recognizing veterans in all past conflicts and wars.
â€śToday itâ€™s important to recognize the heroic self-sacrifice of all veterans,â€ť said Brig. Gen. Ralph Hedenberg. â€śAll veterans, including those that served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan shared the same sacrifice.â€ť
Murphy drew attention to veterans who returned home.
â€śTheir patriotism doesnâ€™t end when they return home, it continues every day,â€ť Murphy said. â€śThey are committed to service in the community when they return, whether itâ€™s as police officers or just as good models in the community.â€ť
For UConn senior and veteran Nathan Baxter, the ceremony was a great way to get veterans together.
â€śItâ€™s a great day for all of us to come together and, once you see everyone again, you realize that you really miss them,â€ť Baxter said.
Baxter spent 11 months in Afghanistan and four months in Kuwait. â€śItâ€™s important that people know that everyone overseas misses their families and is still thinking about them,â€ť Baxter said. â€śAnd that itâ€™s really a brotherhood.â€ť
UConn junior Anna Neu-pert attended the ceremony because she has had a lot of family members who have served over the years.
â€śMy dad is a tech chief for Chinook helicopters, so I was glad they had something to go to on campus,â€ť Neupert said.
â€śVeterans Day has been neglected in the past and I donâ€™t think you can show enough appreciation,â€ť said UConn senior Joe Greenwald. â€śNo matter how much appreciation you show, it will never be enough for their sacrifice.â€ť