Elon's 2016 Veterans Day Observance featured remarks from Al Stewart Jr., a U.S Army veteran, former Greensboro police officer and one-time member of Elon's football team.
Standing on Veterans Day with fellow members of the Elon community who have served in the U.S. armed forces across multiple generations, longtime Elon supporter Bill Loy Jr. recounted how he had been spared so many times during one of the bloodiest stretches of World War II, the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
“They used me as a scout,” Loy said to the crowd of dozens gathered in LaRose Digital Theater in the Koury Business Center on Friday. “I don’t know how God kept me alive. I talked to him daily. I don’t know how many bullets went by me and never touched me. I give all the credit to him.”
Loy shared about his World War II service during Elon’s 2016 Veterans Day Observance, an annual gathering to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice by veterans and their families that began with members of Elon’s ROTC posting the colors. During a roll call, Elon faculty, staff and students shared to be recognized for their own service, or to list off members of their families who have served or are currently serving.
Al Stewart Jr., a U.S. Army veteran and former Greensboro police officer who at one time was a member of the Elon College football team, said the public often gets the wrong picture of those veterans who served during the Vietnam War, as he did. As the keynote speaker for the observance, Stewart shared what he brought home from his three years serving as an Army Ranger during Vietnam.
“What I brought home with me was the satisfaction of serving our country,” said Stewart, who served from 1970 to 1973 and whose awards and decorations include Silver Star, the Bronze Star with “V” device, the Purple Heart, two Air Medals with “V” device, the Bronze Star (Meritorious), the Army Commendation Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star. “I learned the value of responsibility and teamwork, and developed friendships that go deeper than family. … I came home stronger, more confident, more informed to the lessons of life and death, and a better person for my experiences.”
Stewart noted that there are currently 12 million Americans who have served in the military, and urged the country to do more to remember and care for them. “Events like today are a part of what we must do to look after our veterans and honor them. … It was an honor and a privilege for me to serve our great nation.”
The event featured a video planned and produced by Elon students featuring two of their classmates — Luis Laosfarfan ’20 and Bridget Sheffler ’17 — who served in the military before coming to Elon.
I love coming across other people who have been in the military,” Sheffler said during the video. “You know, we’re not strangers. You’re my brother. You’re my sister. We’re a family. … One of the reasons I joined is to have that camaraderie, and that’s exactly what it is.”
Matt Valle, the Martha and Spencer Love Term professor and professor of management in the Love School of Business, helped lead the effort to organize the annual Veterans Day Observance, and said the event offers a way to “recognize, thank and honor veterans” for their “adherence to duty, and their devotion to country.”
Elon’s observance of Veterans Day this year also includes fundraising efforts for the Wounded Warrior Project, a veterans service charitable organization. Saturday, Nov. 12, is Military Appreciation Day and Senior Day at Rhodes Stadium, with a tailgate event before the game to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, with local veterans who have benefitted from the charity’s work in attendance. These “wounded warriors” will be treated to TickleMyRibs barbecue and then honored during the game, with Elon’s marching band, the Fire of the Carolinas, providing a military themed halftime show that will pay tribute to all veterans.
Elon ROTC and MGT 410 students will be circulating throughout the tailgating activities selling chances for a 50/50 raffle that will benefit Wounded Warriors, and “Support Our Troops” T-shirts will be available for purchase at the Wounded Warriors tent. If you are unable to attend any of these events, but would like to support the work of the Wounded Warriors Project, visit this site to offer a contribution.
Elon’s men’s basketball team is also helping recognize those that serve in the military on Veterans Day. The team has its home opener at 8 p.m. on Friday when it takes on William Peace University. In honor of Veterans Day, military personnel and their families will receive free admission with a military ID.