From traditional students in our undergraduate program to those studying online or in a graduate program to faculty and staff members, NCU veterans were called together today to be recognized and honored for their military service. The event opened with a flag ceremony and pledge of allegiance led by a troop of boy scouts. Michael Fuller, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development, followed with a welcome and appreciation speech emphasizing the institution’s gratefulness for the students’ and staff’s contribution to our country. Finally, Campus Pastor Troy Dean led the group in a prayer. The rest of the luncheon was guided by the fellowship and conversation that took place at each table.
The veteran attendees included Kenneth Blackwell, Diego Delaplane, Stephen Fargher, Curtis Fields, Jason Hiner, Jessica Hirte, John Kennedy, Johnny Mager, David Olheiser, Brittany Pitt, Dave Quirk, Geoffrey Sloan, Teresa Smalls, Jonathan Smith, Shannon Smyth, Barry Sommer, and David Wadsworth. A total of seventeen veterans and their families made it to the luncheon, and among them were husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, athletes, and most commonly, students.
Johnny Mager, Dave Quirk, and John Kennedy spoke in a panel at chapel just before the luncheon and were asked how getting an education has been uniquely challenging for someone who is serving or has served in the military. For these men, service in the military gained them the discipline, focus, perseverance, and dedication needed to be successful in their education. Johnny illustrated how writing essays seemed easy compared to the physical demands of serving in the military. When asked how serving in the military stretched or deepened their faith, John Kennedy described his experience deployed in Iraq and how he carried with him dog tags inscribed with the verse Joshua 1:9, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Each of these individuals endured physical, mental, spiritual hardship for the sake of others. Their selflessness gained us freedom. It was the same kind of selflessness that was hung on the cross for our sin. We remember and honor these individuals for their sacrifice that embodies a Christ-like character.