There is no holiday more American than Veterans Day, which this year marked the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI. It is a day to celebrate our freedom and to thank those who fought to preserve it.
With that in mind, Cardinal Gibbons observed Veterans Day with a special student-led celebration that brought together alumni, educators, and parents who served or are now serving in the armed forces. Among them were three alumni and one Gibbons educator who shared their military service stories with over 70 attendees, which included many Gibbons students.
Gibbons’ Serving Our Soldiers (SOS) Club hosted the November 12 event, which took place from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in the school's library media center. It also included a reception.
The four featured speakers were:
Craig Drescher '81, Col. Air Force
Phong Vu '13, Coast Guard
Zachary Bumgardner '11, Marine Corps
Gibbons Science Educator Dan Porter, Army
Each speaker said he was honored to be asked to speak about serving our country, especially on such a patriotic holiday. Each also used the words humility, team, respect, bond, and leadership when talking with pride about being in the military.
The alumni speakers said the event also provided them with an opportunity to return “home” and give back to their alma mater. Additionally, they talked about how lessons they learned at Gibbons, like perseverance, drive, motivation, and service, helped prepare them for the military.
Col. Drescher '81 said he hoped students came away from the event knowing that the military is about teamwork, servant leadership, and being part of something bigger than themselves – tenets that parallel those at Gibbons.
Leading up to the event, SOS members invited the Gibbons school community to write notes to Gibbons alumni veterans in specially-designed Veterans Day cards. Associate Director of Alumni Advancement Susan Leigh ’87 said 92 cards were mailed to alumni, representing graduation years 1945 to 2014, with all branches of the military represented. She described the November 12 event, “as a unique opportunity for current students to engage with our alumni veterans.”
Explaining the goal of the event Rebecca Wicklin ’19, co-president of SOS, said: “This event was not only to celebrate those in the Gibbons community who have served in the armed forces, but also to educate students on the sacrifices made by these men and women.”
Rob Treadway ’19, co-president of SOS, said that the added hope was for attendees to gain more than just information. “Through the stories, laughter, and emotion of our speakers, we hope the audience could see the sacrifice these men and women showed in serving our nation,” he said. “In doing so, we hope the audience gained a greater respect and appreciation for the efforts and work of the American military community.”