Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
November 3, 2008
DeKalb — Members of the Northern Illinois University community can honor veterans Friday, Nov. 7, during the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the flagpole across from Altgeld Hall. All are welcome.
This year’s event also will include a tribute to Julianna Gehant, a member of the NIU Veterans Club who was killed during the Feb. 14 tragedy on campus. The bench near the flagpole is dedicated to Gehant’s memory.
Scheduled for 11 a.m. – ceremonies typically take place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – the NIU Veterans Club-sponsored event offers a chance to pay tribute to men and women who have served, or are serving, in the military.
This year’s observance is being held early to allow members of area veterans groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to attend without missing any other Nov. 11 ceremonies.
Speakers will include two officers from the Illinois National Guard. NIU’s ROTC will provide the color guard and rifle team. Club President John Galan, a clinical laboratory sciences major, will lead the ceremony.
Galan served for seven years in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Iraq in 2003 as a medic with a field artillery unit. He currently is a Reservist and a staff sergeant with the Crestwood, Ill.-based medical detachment of the National Guard.
Veterans Day, he says, “brings to the forefront the need for support” for those who have served. Road names such as “Veterans Memorial Parkway” and monuments are appreciated, he says, but there are greater concerns.
“It’s a whole lot more expensive and difficult to honor veterans who are still around and need our help. They need people legislating and lobbying for them,” Galan says. “There are soldiers and veterans who every day live the reality of making the sacrifices that protect us and our interests abroad. They need to be taken care of. Many of them have injuries, both physical and psychological, that preclude them from continued service.”
Still, Galan calls the ceremonies of Veterans Day “appropriate.” Many of the rights and advantages of U.S. citizenship “don’t exist everywhere in the world as they should,” he says, and that freedom here comes thanks of the military.
“Veterans Day is important to me because there are a lot of great things about our country that are expressly maintained by people who are volunteering to maintain and protect them. They sacrificed their lives and their lifestyles to defend them” he says. “It’s important we recognize them every day and not just Veterans Day.”
For more information, visit www.niuveteransclub.org/.
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