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As we approach Veterans Day, a time of reflection and gratitude, it is profoundly important to recognize those who honorably served our nation during war and peacetime.
In 1926, the United States Congress passed a resolution to observe Veterans Day annually, and in 1938, November 11 became a national holiday to pay tribute to all American veterans, especially giving thanks to living veterans. As the daughter of an admiral, the niece of an admiral, and the granddaughter of a soldier in WWII, I know the sacrifice many of you have made in service of our country, and I am incredibly proud of the work you do to give back to our veterans. All of you are the reason EOU is in the top 15% of military-friendly schools nationwide and consistently ranks as a Best For Vets college by Military Times. It is people like former soldier, trustee, and Director of EOU Military Services Kerry Thompson, who works directly with veterans and active duty servicepersons to ensure they achieve their academic goals, and our Veterans Certifying Official Dorothy Jones who ensures our veterans can access the educational benefits for which they worked so hard.
Our university stands on a rich historical foundation of serving those who served, one that prominently features the courage, dedication, and resilience of our armed forces. EOU served as a training center for pilots in World War II out of which came the 354th Army Gold Club. Fast forward to 1991, and Eastern Oregon State College formally recognized the 354th as a crucible of leadership and a commissioning source, marking our green-to-gold evolution. In 2009 we embraced our identity wholeheartedly, transitioning to the ROTC program. Now led by Captain Renee Meckel, EOU’s ROTC program stands today as a proud educator of officers not only for the 3/116 Cavalry Brigade Combat Team but across the breadth of the Oregon Guard. I encourage you to visit the ROTC site to learn more about the program and read the long list of program alumni, many are currently serving, and many are now veterans of our armed services.
I also want to recognize that our veteran alumni regularly give back to the University. One outstanding example was Charles Chollet who enrolled at EOU after serving in the Navy during World War II. He was a gunner on a plane that flew missions in the South Pacific. Charles received a Purple Heart after being wounded during a mission when a bullet went through his mouth. After passing away in 2003, his family donated $934,000 to the Foundation so that he could continue serving others. His legacy is still being felt twenty years later as these funds continue to provide scholarships to students in need.
I am continually amazed by Oregon’s rural university and how we work hard to provide educational access to everyone here in the region. I invite all of you to the flag-raising ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023, beginning at 11:50 a.m. Our ROTC students will help EOU honor our veterans by marching from the Quad to the flagpole in the cul-de-sac on K Ave. The students will perform the flag-raising ceremony and members of the EOU community will share brief remarks reminding us of the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made. The EOU Choir will lead all in attendance in the singing of our national anthem.
I also want to remind everyone that EOU is closed on Friday, November 10, 2023, in observance of Veterans Day.
Sincerely, thank you to all who have served, the family members who supported their service, and thank you to everyone at EOU for supporting our veterans and their families.
Kelly Ryan, Ph.D.
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