Serving Veterans at Seattle Pacific

Veterans Day 2015

Veterans Day Ceremony

This year, President Dan Martin had these words to honor veterans at the November 10, 2015, Chapel service:

I would like to welcome you this morning as we gather together to recognize and honor our country’s veterans. Of course, as we do every year, classes are canceled tomorrow in recognition of the official federal holiday honoring those who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Even beginning this time at 11 a.m. carries special meaning as it reflects Armistice Day and Remembrance Day — both recognize the formal end of World War I at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918.

From the outset, it has been our intent for this hour to reflect our university’s deep appreciation for our veterans — as well as a time of individual and corporate reflection regarding the significance and contribution of our veterans’ service to the life and liberties we enjoy.

Some of those we honor are here this morning. As I identify each group, will you please stand and allow us to recognize you today:

  • SPU alumni, faculty, and staff who have served in the military. Of course, those present today represent the hundreds of other SPU alumni, faculty, and staff who have served.
  • Our Military and Veterans Support Cadre. Thank you for helping to plan this service today. 
  • Our current students who are either veterans, actively serving, or training to serve through the ROTC program. Beyond the recognition and services we offer our veteran and military students — including participating in the Yellow Ribbon GI Bill program — we host a full-time VeteranCorps Navigator, who we will hear from later in the service.

Throughout SPU’s centennial history book published in 1991, our historic recognition and support for those among our community who have served in the armed forces are noted. For the WW II period of our institutional history, it states: “The students and faculty who remained on the campus did not forget those who were serving in the various branches of the military. In 1943, a service flag was hung, its many stars serving as a reminder of each young man and woman missing from their places on campus.”

Our institutional recognition is not just historical, as this past year we rededicated a veterans memorial on the second floor of Alexander Hall. The marble plaque honors Seattle Pacific University veterans who died in foreign wars — 16 men who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty and justice for all. We honor these men each year in our Memorial Day service.

Many of us have had family, and perhaps all of us friends, who have served in our armed forces. Over the weekend, I reached out to a friend of mine here in Seattle who served his career in uniform. In fact, he had just returned from a University of Washington veterans’ event and reflected upon meeting, in his words, a “great SPU student and ROTC cadet.” As he and I talked and emailed over the weekend, he reflected upon his own service and the heroes he had served alongside. For me, it reinforced how blessed we are to have these great men and women serving, defending, upholding, and advancing — at home and around the world — the founding principles and freedoms so clearly stated in our country’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

This morning, it is right and good to recognize such by marking the hour with the presentation of our nation’s Colors, the singing of our National Anthem, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America.

So while there has been discussion on and off campus about our time together this morning, it is our foundation as a Christian University — as a place of faithful and thoughtful convictions, that we not only ask God to protect and bless the lives of those who served, but also elevate the lives and stories of our veterans to students and members of our community — so that we might consider the ways our veterans’ service has personally touched our lives, perhaps in no greater way than the freedom to practice our faith.

So as we enter this hour, let us commit our hearts and minds to its very essence — as a time to honor our veterans, and to ask for God’s protection and healing on those who have been impacted by loss or injury in service to our country — veterans for whose service we are grateful, service that provides and sustains the very freedom that allows us to pursue the SPU mission we have been called to fulfill.

May God bless this time … and God bless our veterans.

Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2015