Brigadier General Mark C. Johnson

Brigadier General Mark C. Johnson speaks to a crowd that gathers in the Bowling and Billiards Activity Room Monday for ISU's annual Veterans Day ceremony. He has over 33 years of military service.

Illinois State University held its annual Veterans Day Ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday in the Activity Room of the Bowling and Billiards Center.

The event was sponsored by Veterans and Military Services, Illinois State Army ROTC, Veterans at Illinois State, Omega Delta Sigma and the Office of the University Registrar. 

The ceremony began with welcome and opening remarks made by Illinois State Army ROTC and CDT Kevin Leon. Leon also had the opportunity to introduce each portion and speaker of the ceremony throughout the event. 

The national anthem was sung by Illinois State College of Business student Jessica Lamberty. The Invocation followed the national anthem and was said by Illinois State Army ROTC and CDT Kyle Kiper. 

A moment of silence was taken for all veterans and was directed by Illinois State Army ROTC and CDT Nicholas Koval. 

Leon went on to introduce Illinois State University Provost Jan Murphy to conduct the recognition of all veterans portion of the event. 

Murphy mentioned Illinois State’s first president, Charles Hovey, and Hovey’s background with veterans along with former librarian Ange Milner’s involvement in World War I.

He left his presidency to create the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the Teachers’ Regiment. From there, he served as a colonel, was nominated a brigadier general and was brevetted major general.

During Milner’s time, she had compiled a completed roster of men and women at Illinois State who served in World War I. The list included a total of 821 names and was known to be one of the most complete war rosters and files in Illinois by the state historical library. 

Murphy went on to explain each of the programs that are currently in place for students and veterans, highlighting the purpose and importance for each one. 

Following the recognition, Murphy mentioned the university’s background with the veterans programs in place. Illinois State has been named a Military Friendly School by VIQTORY for several years and was recognized by the 2019 Military Friendly Schools list.

The university has been known as a Silver Award university for the support of veterans’ education as a result. 

Illinois National Guard member and Brigadier General Mark C. Jackson was the guest speaker for the ceremony and followed Murphy's speech and recognition of all veterans. 

Jackson has had over 33 years of military service and joined the Illinois National Guard in 1984. After completing the ROTC at Illinois State, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1987.

Much of his speech honored all veterans dating back to World War II and the Vietnam War, emphasizing the importance of remembering those who have come home and those who never had the chance to come home. 

“This day belongs to all of the [veterans]. This day belongs to all of you who stood earlier,” Jackson said.

He then went on to explain how many soldiers in Illinois and in America have gone on to fight, highlighting Sept. 11, 2001.

“Today, we honor those at home and around the globe,” Jackson said. 

He also highlighted deployment numbers and the values of a veteran’s experiences and put them into perspective for the audience.

“They were warriors who believed in something greater than themselves,” Jackson said. 

The ceremony concluded with the Benediction recited by Kiper, followed by the closing remarks from Leon. 

Prior to the ceremony, veterans were able to pick up commemorative yellow ribbons.

Due to the weather, the audience had the opportunity to stay indoors for the laying of flowers and the playing of "Taps" by CDT Colt Baker following the ceremony. 

Light refreshments were also served throughout and following the ceremony.

KELLIE FOY is a News Reporter for The Vidette. She can be contacted at  Follow her on Twitter at @kellie_foy 

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