Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans Day: A Samford Legacy

On November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed that ended the fighting in World War I. In celebration of this peace agreement, Armistice Day was recognized each year.

In 1954, the name was changed in the United States to Veterans Day to include recognition for veterans of all military service but remained on November 11th. The British, Canadians, and Australians call it Remembrance Day and primarily dedicate the day to remembering soldiers who died in World Wars I and II, wearing the red poppy as symbol.

With its military school roots, Howard was heavily involved in supporting the efforts of both world wars, through fundraising, creating supplies, and running student military training programs. Even though Howard officially abandoned compulsory military curricula in 1913, it was reintroduced five years later by unanimous vote of the student body, and a Civilian Pilot Training Program and Naval Air Corps school was begun in 1942. A Navy V-12 training program was a major part of Howard life from 1943-1945. So incorporated were these programs, that for a while, athletes were known as Howard Seadogs! In the University Archives, you can find correspondence between President Major Harwell Davis and students who were deployed overseas.

Following the Second World War, Dr. George V. Irons was assigned as director of the Veterans' Liaison Service, part of Counseling Services, to help military veterans entering school deal with the intricacies of applying for benefits and providing appropriate certifications.

Today, Samford still maintains a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program for the Air Force, which still aims to combine liberal arts values with military training and discipline.

As we think about yesterday, Veterans Day, we must think about our history, often our family, our present, and our future. If there's one thing we can see from Samford's history with wartime preparedness, it's that education is just as crucial for the battlefield as it is for the boardroom. Critical thinking and mental flexibility haven't changed, even if the uniforms have.

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war,
no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
- President George Washington

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God."
- Matthew 5:9

Resources: "Veterans Day." Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 12 November 2012.

Sulzby, James Frederick. Toward A History Of Samford University / By James F. Sulzby, Jr. n.p.: Birmingham, Ala. : Samford University Press, 1986.

Marliese Thomas, User Engagement Librarian

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