Campus ceremony

For six years, SUNY Fredonia has been honoring veterans with their annual Veterans Remembrance Ceremony on campus. Each year, the campus comes together before Veterans Day to honor students, employees and community members who have served in the military, as well as award military-related scholarships.

Provost and Academic Affairs Vice President Terry Brown welcomed those in attendance, including veterans, to the ceremony. She said Congressman Tom Reed unfortunately could not attend the ceremony, but wrote a letter sending “his expression of sincere gratitude to the veterans gathered here today for their sacrifices … made to defend our nation.”

Brown gave a brief history prior to when students from the Dunkirk High School JROTC presented the colors.

“On November 11, 1918, the fighting stopped in one of the most horrific wars the world has ever seen. World War I, the great war, was supposed to had been the war that ended all wars. Nearly 100 years later, we know that was not the case, as the world has seen many wars since that day of armistice, which is another word for cease fire and the beginning of peace,” said Brown. “In 1919, the year after the end of the first World War, United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day …”

Currently, SUNY Fredonia has 51 state employees, five Faculty Student Association employees and 32 students who are all military veterans. The college has been placed on Victory Media’s 2014 military-friendly schools list.

Brown announced a new Veterans Display case located on the second floor of the Williams Center containing military awards, artifacts and other military-related items. Brown also spoke of a veterans lounge located on the first floor of Nixon Hall. The lounge will have wireless internet, a computer and printer and a meeting space for veteran students to utilize.

“The lounge will be a dedicated space for student veterans, military service members and any students receiving the VA educational entitlement through the campus VA Office. It will be officially open for use by the end of this semester,” she said.

During the ceremony, the Smith-Viggiani Veterans Scholarship was awarded to seniors Brittany Toapha from Monroe and Daniel Rowe of Geneva. The $5,000 scholarship is awarded to students who are veterans or dependents of veterans. The award was established by Dave Smith, executive chairman of the board for National Fuel, who was a member of the class of 1974. He and his wife, Lucy, met and married while students at SUNY Fredonia. Toapha is the daughter of a military veteran and Rowe served in the U.S. Army.

The SUNY Fredonia Veterans’ Scholarship was awarded to senior Erin Dorozynski of Pine Plains. The $500 award is given to a student who is receiving veteran-related educational entitlement. With every $50 given to the Veterans Scholarship Fund, residents can submit the name and tour of service of one U.S. veteran to be placed on the SUNY Fredonia Veterans Honor Roll.

Brown said she would be placing her father’s name on the roll for his service in the military. The honor roll can be found at Dorozynski’s parents both served in the military; her father being drafted for the Vietnam War and her mother joining the military at 18.

“I’d like to start off by saying ‘thank you’ to the service men and women for what you have done for our country. I’m grateful to have this opportunity to speak today for such an important occasion,” Dorozynski said.

Dorozynski said she had a hard time trying to explain what Veterans Day meant to her but came up with a definition. She said she grew up with several family members serving in the military, including a grandfather, an uncle, brothers and a cousin.

“To me, Veterans Day is every day. It’s about gratitude, family, loyalty, courage, pride, hope and giving thanks. Both of my parents selflessly served in the Army and they taught me to thank those who have served, for they make the sacrifices for my future successes,” Dorozynski said.

Dorozynski said growing up, she would watch her father stop and talk to other veterans he encountered in public. She joked these encounters were not always so brief, but they taught her to have respect for those who have served.

“No matter their branch of service, it was always clear that they both understood the same bravery, dedication, loyalty and courage,” said Dorozynski. “I’m thankful everyday for the opportunities I have because I know without our veterans, I would not have the freedom and privileges I have today. As a student, I’m inspired to try to work everyday to try and improve my campus community because I want those who have served to know their sacrifices are fondly appreciated.”

She said that she knows a thank you is not enough for the veterans, but as she learned from her father in years past, Dorozynski said “thank you” to all the veterans in attendance.

Performing the National Anthem were SUNY Fredonia music students Gabrielle Mason, Michael Crabb, Elizabeth Cowan, Stephen Smith and Nicholas Reed. Also present at the ceremony was the POW/MIA Table, which represents all those service men and women who are prisoners of war or are missing in action. The Sigma Tau Honor Society is collecting items for deployed service men and women. Anyone interested in donating items such as personal hygiene items, packaged snacks or activities for the soldiers can drop off items in the Registrar’s Office in Reed Library prior to Thanksgiving.

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