Southern Arkansas University Honored Veterans This Week
The sacrifices of military men and women, as well as those of their families, were honored at a special ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Grand Hall at the Reynolds Center at Southern Arkansas University.
Members of all branches of service were individually recognized at the annual Veterans Day Tribute. Special music was performed to honor each branch. Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, gave a stirring speech on the importance of a volunteer citizen fighting force.
According to the Press Release, Kelsie Madison, Miss SAU, read the poem, “Veterans Day,” by Cheryl Dyson, and SAU Encore performed the song, “God Bless the USA.” SAU Brass Quintet played an “Armed Forces Salute,” including marches for the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
The welcome and invocation were delivered by Associate Dean for Multiculturalism and Diversity Cledis Stuart. “It is an honor to recognize your service and sacrifice,” Stuart told the assemblage. He asked the audience to also recognize local first responders in attendance.
Deana Taylor, campus and community welfare coordinator, led the Salute to Troops, in which each veteran stood for an introduction. Included among the introductions were Curtis Brown, 99, and Bob Keheres, 101. Dalicia Torrence, SAU Heritage Singer, sang “God Bless America.”
In his speech, Berry told of the War of 1812, and how a ragtag group of volunteers defended the still-fledgling United States against a powerful invading British Army.
“At that time, the British were fighting on two fronts – against the United States, and against Napoleon in France,” Berry said. “Once Napoleon was defeated and sent into exile, the British shifted their resources to the war in America. This was like the United States of today going to war against Brazil.”
The U.S. learned that Britain planned to seize control of the Mississippi River and divide the nation in half. To accomplish this, the British Army would have to take control of New Orleans. “We had no army in New Orleans,” Berry said.
Andrew Jackson, who would become the seventh President of the United States, was then a judge in Tennessee. He led the Battle of New Orleans, recruiting elderly veterans of the Revolutionary War, Native Americans, and even pirates to defend New Orleans – which lacked even a fort. Using “anybody who could hold a gun,” a fort built of mud and weapons both borrowed and improvised, Jackson and his forces repelled the invaders at New Orleans. Their efforts exemplify the value of citizen soldiers, he said.
“Our country survived because volunteers came forward to serve. I thank you for your service, and SAU thanks you, every day. We could not be more proud of you," Berry said.
The National Guard from Hope, Arkansas performed the Posting and Retiring of Colors. The program was hosted by the SAU Veteran’s Resource Center.