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Honoring Our Veterans

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Excerpt from “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Tuesday, November 11, is the day the United States honors its veterans. Honoring veterans is something we should all do every day. When you meet a veteran, thank him or her for their extraordinary service to our great country.

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as ‘The Great War.’ Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United State in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.”

I first learned about Veterans Day and its significance as a small boy on a trip downtown with my grandmother whom I called Granny Shanks. Every week, my grandmother would catch the trolley car from our Lakewood neighborhood in Dallas and travel “downtown” to the central business district to shop.  Often, she would take me or one of my siblings and this was a special treat for us.

One Veterans Day, I accompanied her on her weekly outing. While shopping, Granny Shanks stopped and bought a paper poppy to pin to her dress. I asked what the poppy was for and she said, “I’m wearing this for my brother Jesse who died at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France in World War I.” Years later, I was in France on an art tour. On a crisp September morning, we were on a bus on our way to Charte. Our driver said we had some time and we were approaching the American Cemetery where those who died in the Battle of Belleau Wood are buried. It was a beautiful day and a bright blue sky covered the cemetery with its red brick fence, majestic trees, rose bushes and standards of crosses and stars of David row on row. I suddenly remembered my Great Uncle Jesse and went to the guard house where an American soldier was on duty. This was pre-computer and I asked if he could tell me if there was a Jesse Norris buried there. He went through a large directory and found the name. He walked me to a far corner of the cemetery and there it was: Jesse Norris, 19, McKinney, Texas. I was moved to tears and this moment in time was stored in my memory. So I always buy a poppy and I wear it for Jesse. I also wear it for my brother Don who spent 25 years in the Navy and died in a Veterans Hospital.

farm house
My Grandmother (Granny Shanks) – Far right, Jesse Norris – shortest boy, two to the left of my Grandmother, stand in front of their farm house.  This farm in McKinney, Texas and the battlefield in Belleau Woods are the only two places Jesse spent his life.

So as we approach this Veterans Day, I ask you to join me in remembering and in thanking all of those who have provided special service, some at the cost of their lives, for all they have done and continue to do.

Please read below about recent or upcoming programs at RCC that provide service to veterans.

  Rockland Community College announces its new Battle Buddy Center to support student veterans’ success.

RCC’s Veterans Affairs Office and the Office of the President are delighted to announce that it will be relocating its veterans lounge to a brand new space in Academic I, Room 1109, at the center of campus. RCC’s Battle Buddy Center, as it will be named, is more accessible especially for student veterans who are disabled. The Centers or Lounges are based on the military concept of a “Battle Buddy” which partners soldiers to assist each other both in and out of combat. The Battle Buddy Center at RCC will offer activities to:
  • Encourage camaraderie and foster veterans to give and receive mutual support
  • Encourage academic and personal achievement
  • Provide a venue for veterans to receive veteran related resources and information
  • Offer a common ground and sanctuary for student veterans to associate with one another and provide peer support
  • Provide a regular, central meeting spot for the Veterans Club

veterans lounge floor plan


October 2 –Induction of RCC’s Students Veterans to SALUTE - National Veterans Honor Society

High achieving student veterans will be honored at the October 2 induction ceremony for RCC’s chapter of SALUTE, the national academic honor society for student veterans.

RCC’s SALUTE Induction Ceremony and Dinner

6:00 pm, Thursday, October 2, 2014
Hilton Pearl River, 500 Veterans Memorial Dr. Pearl River, NY 10965

The keynote speaker for this event is Colonel Frank L. Donovan, USMC, Director of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, based in Quantico, VA.

SALUTE was founded in 2009. The acronym stands for “Service, Academics, Leadership, Unity, Tribute, and Excellence.” RCC’s SALUTE chapter was started in 2013 with an inaugural group of 40 students who had attained the necessary academic requirements. Twenty student veterans are candidates for this year’s induction ceremony as RCC maintains its position in the top 20% of schools nationwide in commitment and services to veterans, has been named a Military Friendly School, and remains the only community college in New York State with a chapter of SALUTE.

Additional programs for veterans at RCC include a dedicated Veteran’s Affairs office and coordinator, a Veterans Lounge, off-campus trips and activities, mentoring and scholarships.

Colonel Donovan entered the Marine Corps in 1986. After attending Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, he assumed his current position as Director of the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, VA. His awards include the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three Gold Stars, and the Combat Action Ribbon.

Rockland Community College Annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony


veterans group photo
(Left to Right) President Dr. Cliff L. Wood, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Veterans Daniel J. Greeley, USMC, Jonathan Winfield, USMC, Justic M. Santinella, US Army, Michael C. Monroe, USAF, Arlene Clinkscale, RCC Board President, Senator William J. Larkin, Jr., Shalisha Scudder, daughter of 9/11 victim Christopher Scudder, English Prof. Dan Masterson and Laurie Tautel, Chief of Staff to Assemblyman James Skoufis.


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