Campus members can sigh a breath of relief on Veterans Day as they get a head start on their weekend and a small break from a busy semester. For some, the holiday is nothing more than this; for others, it is a day to shed light upon their service to this country.
Thursday, Marshall Thomas, Veterans Affairs director and Marine Corps veteran, reminded a small crowd outside the university bookstore at Cal State Long Beach to consider the importance of the holiday.
“I want you to remember that the reason you’re not at work tomorrow is because of Veterans Day,” Thomas said. “So take your time to talk to a veteran and thank a veteran. I encourage you to get to know someone and start a conversation with them. We have a lot of really amazing veterans who have done some really amazing things with their lives.”
According to Gus Orozco, senior geography major and army veteran, Veterans Affairs collaborated with Associated Students, Inc. to host the event. During the national anthem, the crowd fell silent as some placed their right hand over their heart. Those who have served stood tall with their fists parallel to their sides.
In his speech, Orozco credited veterans for their role in protecting the U.S. and spoke about his own experiences.
“I want to thank our veteran allies because without their support none of this would happen,” Orozco said. “Speaking for myself, returning home, I know that the involvement of the veteran community and allies just made that transition much easier. Today we honor veterans young and old, whether they served overseas or at home, whether is was storming the beaches of Normandy, we want to thank them.”
What many people don’t know is that Nov. 10 is the Marine Corps’ 242nd birthday, one day before Veterans Day. To celebrate this occasion, marines in the crowd gathered around a big cake with the United States Marine Corps insignia pasted on the middle, while veteran Andrew Meats sliced the dessert with a sword.
“It’s traditional that the youngest marine and oldest marine received first pieces of cake and exchanged the pieces to represent the transfer of knowledge and experience from older marine to younger,” Thomas said.
President Jane Close Conoley also spoke at the event to honor the veterans, mentioning that they often have better GPAs than the average student.
“I think the individuals are very important and I’ve been so impressed with the graduation rates and the GPAs and everything of our student veterans,” Conoley said. “So it’s important to recognize that because they’ve come with potential baggage that other students don’t have, I think they’re a great example of a campus that can successfully include everyone.”
A recent study by the Student Veterans of America showed that student veterans have a higher grade point average than your average student, according to Orozco. He emphasized the need for veterans to remain active in communities in and on campus.
“I’m here to tell you that you’re still needed, and you’re needed to take a leadership role in your classes and and in your organizations on your campus,” Orozco said. “We’re at about a 3.35 [GPA] right now, that means that you’re leading in the classrooms and you have to take that [leadership] role.”
Christopher Howell, a junior and biochemical engineer major, highlighted his pride in being a veteran.
“I’m a marine corps veteran,” Howell said. “Being a veteran is an important part of my life and I can’t change that and I just wanted to be here to show support for all the other veterans and I wanted to be here to enjoy it with everybody.”