SPEAKER 1: Color Guard, forward march. Left. Left. Left. Color Guard, halt. Left face. Present arms.
TALYSE HAMPTON: (SINGING) Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight. O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
SPEAKER 1: Order. Arms. About face. Ready post. Ready post colors. Left face. Forward arms. Forward march. Left. Left. Color Guard, halt.
SPEAKER 2: The invocation will be given by Pastor Rick Bair, Chaplain of Cornell United Religious Works.
RICK BAIR: Let us be together in prayer. Gracious God, we gather this day as people of this one nation under God. We gather as a people committed to live together primarily under, and with, the Constitution to remember and honor those who have sworn to protect and defend that Constitution, and thus, have protected and defended the people of this nation and of the world. We hold in our minds, hearts, an appreciation all veterans who have served in this country's armed forces. As we honor them for their service, express a deep debt of gratitude, and thank them for risking their lives for the sake of liberty and freedom, both ours and the world's.
We give thanks for all those who have stood up with, and for, helpless victims of oppression around the world. And we lift up the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their fellow citizens and in defense of our country. We remember those who have courageously and selflessly placed themself in harm's way holding their own lives less precious than the precious freedom of others, even of strangers in need. We owe a debt more than gratitude to those who gave their all that we may stand today as beneficiaries of their gift and may continue our way of life in such freedom. For those who have served, and for those who are serving, including the significant sacrifice to beloved families, we gather to express our respect, our gratitude, and to give our thanks. Amen.
SPEAKER 2: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Joining us today to help celebrate this occasion is Lynette Chappell-Williams. Lynette Chappell-Williams is the Associate Vice President of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at Cornell University and the Executive Liaison to the Veterans Colleague Network Group. She leads the university's diversity, affirmative action, and work life family initiatives. She previously held positions as a Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Activities at George Washington University, and as Associate Vice President of the Multicultural Programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, to name a few.
Lynette Chappell-Williams obtained her law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, her bachelor's degree from James Madison University, and received Diversity Certification from ILR School at Cornell University.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Associate Vice President, Lynette Chappell-Williams.
LYNETTE CHAPPELL-WILLIAMS: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good Morning.
LYNETTE CHAPPELL-WILLIAMS: As a child of an army officer, or as we were called army brats, Veteran's Day was a special time because it was fun. Each year, we were invited on to the military base where we learned about the newest helicopters, climbed on the tanks, and heard stories from the heroes who served in wars.
It wasn't until I was older that I fully appreciated the significance of Veteran's Day and the sacrifices that had been made by those who served in the military. What I didn't understand as a child was that Veteran's Day is a celebration of the end of World War I. On June 28, 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed to officially end the war.
However, fighting had actually ceased seven months earlier when an armistice temporarily ended the fighting between the Allied nations and Germany. This armistice went into effect the 11th hour of the 11th day of November, the 11th month. As a result, November 11, 1918 was regarded as the end of what was referred to as the war to end all wars.
A year later on November 19, 1919 was declared the first commemoration of what became known as Armistice Day. On that occasion, President Wilson said, and I quote, "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride and the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
The original concept for the celebration of Armistice Day was a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 AM. However, on June 4, 1926, the US Congress issued a proclamation that November 11th provide an opportunity for individuals to display the flag on all government buildings and for the country to observe the day in schools and churches. At the time that the proclamation was issued, 27 states had already declared it a legal holiday.
On May 13, 1938, an act of Congress made Armistice Day a legal holiday as well. However, after World War II and the Korean War in 1954, the Act of 1938 was amended to be called Veteran's Day, an opportunity to honor American veterans of all wars.
As we celebrate Veteran's Day today, Cornell University has a reason to be celebrating based on its own history with the military. Cornell commissioned more than 5,000 officers in World War I, more than any other institution including the military academies. We also, during World War II, inducted more officers and service members than any other single institution with more than 20,000 Cornellians serving in this war.
What is now known as Barton Hall, which was constructed in 1914, originally served as an aircraft hangar during World War I and a drill deck and armory during World War II. The military has had a presence at Cornell since its founding in 1865, starting with the Army as the first branch. And Naval training being implemented in 1941 with the Navy ROTC established in 1945. Air Force ROTC was established in 1950.
From an educational perspective, Cornell is the only Ivy League institution to host all service on campus-- Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy. And from an employment perspective, Cornell is the only university to have been recognized by the Families and Work Institute either as a top employer or honorable mention for its efforts to address the employment of military veterans since the establishment of the award in 2012.
In light of Cornell's longstanding history with the military, it's an honor that we host the Navy's first female four star Admiral and the 38th Vice Chair of Naval Operations, Michelle Howard. Admiral Howard is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. And in 1982, she graduated from the United States Naval Academy. And in 1998, from the Army's Command in General Staff College with a master's in Military Arts and Sciences-- excuse me.
Admiral Howard has had several tours of duty including the USS Henley, the USS Lexington, and the USS Mount Hood, as well as serving in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In addition to a stellar military career, Admiral Howard was recognized in 1987 for her outstanding leadership, receiving the Secretary of the Navy, Navy League Captain Winifred Collins Award which is given to one woman officer a year. In 2001, she was the USO Military Woman of the Year. And in 2013, she was a recipient of the NAACP Chairman's Image Award. Please join me in welcoming Admiral Michelle Howard.
MICHELLE HOWARD: Good morning, everyone.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
MICHELLE HOWARD: Well, my goodness. I am pretty darn happy to be able to come to Ithaca and celebrate Veteran's Day with the people of Ithaca, and the people of Cornell, the faculty and students and midshipmen. So thank you very much, Cassie for the invitation.
So let me start this Veteran's Day with a sea story. This one's true.
When I had command of USS Rushmore, I was asked to speak to elementary school children. So I went to the neighborhood school. And after talking a little bit about myself, the youngsters were allowed to ask questions. And they were easy with me at first. I was able to answer with confidence such questions as why are Navy ships gray? Do you see dolphins at sea?
Then a young boy stood up. And he started with how can you be in command of a ship, you're-- you're-- and then he paused searching for that next word. And in that three second pause, so much went through my mind. Was he going to comment on me being a woman? And I found myself praying, please God do not let this child remark on heritage.
Well, then he continued. How can you be in command of a ship? You're short.
Well, I'm here to tell you men and women who serve come in all shapes and sizes. And what we have in common is a sworn allegiance to the Constitution. And what we have in common is at the end of our time of service, we all share the title veteran.
And Veteran's Day is a sacred occasion because it is our way to recognize and appreciate the heroism and sacrifices of men and women who would never think to seek that recognition for themselves. Veteran's Day is about service to your country with perseverance, duty, and selflessness.
And from the first day of our military training, we learn to value and cultivate those traits. Not because they bring glory or awards, because that's literally how we get to mission accomplishment, that's how we safeguard our brothers and sisters, and that's how we defend this country's Constitution. And I've seen these traits exemplified in role models throughout history, both inside and outside the military. They're not unique to our services.
So if you would I'd like to have a slight detour in this Veteran's Day. In the summer of 1848, two women abolitionists, 40 miles from here in Seneca Falls, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton put together the Seneca Falls Convention. Advertised to discuss the social, civil, and religious conditions of women. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton truly understood perseverance, duty, and selflessness. They were leaders in America in the anti-slavery effort.
But as they traveled, they found they were barred from attending international conventions simply because they were women. It took one afternoon and one discussion, and they decided to hold a conference to discuss women's reforms because they felt it was their duty to tackle the issues of women's equality. And despite putting it together in less than a week, they had almost 300 men and women show up.
The sessions consisted of several speeches given by everyone. And from the newspaper reports of the day, the women understood and used the opportunity to publicize the grievances against their sex including their unequal status as citizens. And after days of debate, the leaders of the convention were called upon to vote on the articles and sign the Declarations of Sentiments. Based upon the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments listed the equal legal and social status of women. It carried a list of injuries against their sex, including a lack of property rights, lack of recognition in the church, inequitable partnership in marriage, and taxation without representation.
The Declaration called on the country and her residents to redress these issues. So Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and countless others share an understanding of service to this country, along with the veterans we honor today. Lucretia Mott and Cady Elizabeth Stanton were responsible for redefining the meaning of the word citizen. And I believe they looked at it as their duty to fight for their rights.
In advancing their claim that the Declaration of Independence was a document that spoke for women as well as men, they drove change to our Constitution. They are heroes of American history whose perseverance in the social battles of their day have contributed to the freedoms and ideals of our country. Through their selfless devotion to equality, the Constitution is more inclusive and even more inspiring.
Dawn Seymour is another woman from this area in the tradition of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Through her service during World War II, she is a shining example of selflessness. Dawn graduated from Cornell in 1939. And she was working as an instructor in the College of Home Economics in the fall of '39 when she got her private pilots license here at Cornell flying and studying before or after her work hours.
When the United States entered war, she heard about Jackie Cochran heading up a program called Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASP. The WASPs would fly aircraft stateside to free men to fly aircraft overseas. Dawn immediately knew she could use her love of flying to serve her country. Dawn was only one of 13 women to learn to fly the B-17 bomber in the Combat Pilot Training Course. She memorized everything about the plane's systems, training to fly it at all times of day and night.
And it was a challenging course, but Dawn thrived. She said "I remember one flight we were doing figure eights when suddenly the number three engine caught fire. We put the fire out and continued the training mission and I knew that was the plane for me."
At its inception, the WASP program required women pilots to have a private pilot license and 200 hours of flight time. And then the army would train them to fly the army way. But it wasn't long before the program started accepting women without any prior flying experience, women who selflessly wanted to do their part for the war effort. Eventually women proved they could fly almost every type of aircraft in the US military arsenal at the time, including the heaviest bombers and the fastest planes. Their pilot training became almost the same as their male counterparts.
The WASP training program graduated over 1,000 women pilots. And they were responsible for several vital functions. They ferried over 50% of the aircraft, combat aircraft, that had to be moved around the country during the war, as well as served as instructors for the Eastern Flying Training Command. That job included towing targets for the young men who trained to be gunners. And yes, the man shot live ammunition at the WASPs.
By the time the WASP program was disbanded in 1944, they'd flown about 60,000 miles in operation-- I'm sorry, 60 million miles in operations, freeing up countless men for combat. However along the way, 38 women died while serving, 11 in training and 27 on missions. The Army Air Force never technically militarized the program. And after the war, the records of the program were classified and sealed. Their contribution to the war effort was not considered military service.
That changed in 1977 when the WASP program was officially recognized by Congress. And Dawn Seymour, as well over 1,000 of her fellow pilots, were afforded veterans benefits under the law. In 2010, the WASP was given the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their work. And one WASP said "We were never in it for the glory." But she was happy to have their work remembered years later.
And Dawn who wrote a book about the 38 women who selflessly sacrifice their lives during the war, said "It's wonderful to be invited here, because we thought the WASPs had been forgotten." And this is just another example of why we continue to mark Veteran's Day. Recall the stories of our forebears to reassure them, and ourselves, that we haven't forgotten their work, their stories, their passions, or their sorrows.
Women like Dawn and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are the reason that we can say the word citizen, pilot, patriot, and veteran and know those words apply to any American-- black, white, woman, or man. Each of us deserves the full rights of responsibility associated with citizenship.
And Barbara Jordan, former Congresswoman from Texas, said it more eloquently. "We only want, we only ask, that when we stand up and talk about one nation under God, liberty, justice for everybody, we only want to be able to look at that flag, put our hands over our hearts, repeat those words, and know they are true. The majority of the American people who still believe that every single individual in this country is entitled to just as much respect, just as much dignity, as every other citizen." So every person who serves our country is entitled to be remembered and honored this day for their patriotism.
So with that, I'll share just two more stories of perseverance and selflessness. Sergeant Alan Louis Eggers served in the United States Army during World War I. He was a student here at Cornell before he answered the call of duty. And in late September 1918, he was serving in France. Sergeant Eggers, with another sergeant and a corporal, became separated from their platoon by a smoke barrage. They had cautiously taking cover in a foxhole that was within the enemy lines when they heard a call from help from an American tank.
The tank was disabled about 30 yards from their location. All three men sprang from their shelter to assist the tank and the crew, dodging enemy fire from German machine guns and mortars. The corporal was hit. But the two sergeants pressed on, persevering in their goal. They reached the tank and found three wounded men. When Sergeant Eggers and Sergeant Latham got the men to relative safely, they fought their way back to the tank to salvage its machine gun. And using the gun, they held the Germans off throughout the day, finally able to return to friendly lines with the wounded men under the cover of darkness.
Sergeant Eggers was the recipient of the Medal of Honor for this action. He had the profound gratitude of the families of the men he saved with his perseverance and courage. And Alan Egger's dedication was also recognized by Cornell when they conferred the degree of War Alumnus on him in 1921. And what a wonderful example of this institution and community's commitment to honor service to our nation.
And finally, I'd like to recognize the sense of duty of both men and women who fight with, and for, us today. I'd like to talk about a volunteer and a warrior, Captain Heidi Berg, United States Navy, who graduated from Annapolis in 1991. She's an intelligence officer who has a strong heritage of service to her country. Her grandfather flew biplanes in the army in World War I. Her father retired as a captain in the Navy Reserve. Heidi has brothers who served in the Navy and Marine Corps. Her husband is class of 1985 from Annapolis and a surface warfare officer. And her father-in-law was in the Navy and commanded a submarine. She is the mother of three daughters. And she is immensely proud of all three of her daughters.
She deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 in support of the Army. Heidi was understandably concerned about her daughters' reactions to mom being in harm's way, but she was open and honest with her three girls about the war and why we are fighting there. She wanted them to understand the commitment she has to her duty. And in the end, during her deployment, her youngest daughter, Bella, sent her a Valentine card that said "Roses are red. Violets are blue. I love you. And mommy, go kick the Taliban butt."
Captain Berg's story is a part of a larger family tradition of service, but also a grander American legacy. She is a warrior, one of the many women who have always been volunteers in the fight for freedom and for the ideals of our Constitution. She is a patriot ready to sacrifice for her country and for liberty. And she is a citizen willing to defend the Constitution with her life. The very same document that because of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's work inclusively protects, injures, all of our rights.
So it's my great joy to tell you that without exception, I can apply these words warrior, patriot, citizen, and veteran to every person who's ever served in our United States military. This grand democracy has evolved to equality without concession. This form of democracy is based on countless people who fought and died defending the Constitution. It's a testament to the limitless perseverance and selflessness of our ancestors. And it is an undeniable living monument to our veterans' work.
So I join all of you here to carry on a great tradition and hallowed responsibility to recognize and remember. Dating back as far as Veteran's Day itself, the Cornell community has known what it is to honor those who have served. Whether it's by designating those who could not complete their degrees in World War I as war alumni, joining their fellow students with the full privileges and distinction of graduate or by gathering here today, your actions speak to the gratitude and regard that you feel for the sacrifices of our American veterans. The best, and sometimes only, fitting way to carry on a legacy is by pledging a continued commitment to that duty and perseverance we learn from our forebears' example.
So by remembering and recounting veterans' deeds and service of selflessness, perseverance, and duty, we reaffirm why this America is a great nation. It is because of her great people. So God bless America. God bless our women and men in service around the world. And God bless our American veterans. Thank you.
SPEAKER 2: Ladies and gentlemen, Talyse Hampton will now sing "God Bless America."
TALYSE HAMPTON: (SINGING) God bless America land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home. God bless America, my home sweet home.
SPEAKER 2: Ladies and gentlemen, Captain James Horten, Commanding Officer Naval ROTC and Professor of Naval Science.
JAMES HORTEN: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good morning.
JAMES HORTEN: During my 27 years in naval service, and now as the professor of Naval Science teaching the next generation of our country's veterans, we talk about what it means to be a veteran. In simplest terms, it means the willingness and the volunteering to raise your right hand and take an oath of office. And with that oath, understand that your request for service and your request for what you want to do in the military are countered by the needs of the nation.
If your skills align you to something else, the Navy will assign you, or the Army, or the Air Force will assign you to the tasks that best serve the nation. And by taking that oath, you've agreed to serve the nation the best you can. And the professors of Naval Science and my fellow commanders here of the ROTC units, every year we get that one or two students who get assigned to something other than what they were requesting. And it's amazing to go through that transition with them of OK, you wanted this service, but you have been assigned something different. How can you best serve the nation? Why were you picked for that job? How can you make the most of it? Where does your life's road now go?
And to our great honor, every one of these wonderful young Americans understands that role and they understand what that oath meant. And they understand that when they agreed to serve the nation, they agreed to serve the nation's needs, not their desires. When you talk about Veteran's Day and you get the privilege to talk to some of the old veterans, some of the Greatest Generation, they weren't the ones asking for Veteran's Day. Veteran's Day, we all talk about showing gratitude to them, but it's for all the rest of us to understand the traits that they represent and the benefit to America that they show us.
And the best quote I've ever heard to describe the attitude of those veterans comes from Theodore Roosevelt. He said "No man needs sympathy because he has to work. Far and away, the best prize that life offers is a chance to work hard at work well worth doing."
And most of the military members that I've served with and the veterans that I've had the opportunity to interact with live out that quote. They took great pride in the work they did and in the value of that work and in the value of the nation, in whatever piece it was-- whether it was combat or whether it was support or whether it was in some office somewhere-- they understand the value and the contribution. And as we all go about our day here for Veteran's Day, it's understanding that that service to nation, it's not about the gratitude, it's about the internal understanding that you helped serve and that you benefited your fellow citizens. Thank you.
SPEAKER 2: Thank you, sir. Ladies and gentlemen, would you please rise for the Benediction from Pastor Bair and remain standing for the departure of the official party.
RICK BAIR: Oh God, while some of us come this day, and every day, yearning for wars to cease, we also acknowledge the appropriate need for restraint upon those who will not willingly constrain themselves from harming others. As we move forward from this day of remembering and honoring those who have served and are serving, by whose service we are privileged to stand and exercise our freedom, let us as a nation recommit to rightfully caring for those whose serving has left scar tissue on their bodies, hearts, minds, spirits, as well as upon their families and loved ones.
Grant that we may worthily carry on where they have courageously led so that our country may enjoy for generations to come the precious qualities of freedom, liberty, justice, and peace. May we honor them by bringing the tribute of a ready heart, a disciplined life, and a worthy citizenship. Guide all who lead and all who follow that they may be wise and discerning servants honoring themselves, their families, their service, and their nation. Lead them to see clearly so that they may uphold that which is right, abhor that which is wrong, and do that which is just and honorable. Amen.
SPEAKER 2: Ladies and gentlemen, could I get one more round of applause for our guest speaker, Admiral Michelle Howard?
Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our ceremony. Please remain standing while the departure of the official party. Again, thank you for attending this celebration.
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Adm. Michelle J. Howard, 38th vice chief of naval operations, gave the keynote address at a celebration of Cornell's veterans and military personnel Nov. 11, 2014.