COLLEGE PARK – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and the University of Maryland honored student, staff and alumni veterans in a memorial service on campus Wednesday.
“It is because of your service,” Brown said in remarks at the university’s Memorial Chapel, “that our nation remains the greatest nation in the world, and we owe you debt and gratitude that we will never be able to fully repay.”
Brown also thanked the university for its outreach programs to veterans, which include scholarships and the community support group TerpVets.
“We need to acknowledge the contributions veterans have made and can continue to make today,” Brown said before the event. “It is important that we help our veterans to be all they can be.”
Brown was a fitting representative for the ceremony. He is a colonel in the Army Reserves, and has deployed on tours of duty in Germany and Iraq. He is the highest-ranking elected official who has served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff and student veterans appeared at the event to share stories and remembrances of their tours of duty.
Dennis Robinson, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and a graduate student at the university, said of all the identities assumed throughout a life, that of veteran is the most dear to those who have served.
“It is the identity which quintessentially defines us, which says the most about our values,” Robinson said.
“Everyone who has ever served, is serving, or will serve will see things that are terrible,” said Jack Baker, an Air Force veteran and director of Operations and Maintenance in Facilities Management at the university. “Today, I ask you to think about the good memories.”
Edward Chow Jr., Maryland’s secretary of Veteran Affairs, was also present to read Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Veterans Day proclamation, and encouraged veterans to seek help if they need it.
“If we can be of service to you, please contact us,” Chow said.
Several student and alumni veterans had come to see the event, including Vietnam veteran and 1963 business school alumnus Albert Gasser, 70, from Quantico, Va.
Gasser said he had come to “share in the remembrance of what we’ve all done in the service.”
Cadet Staff Sgt. Matthew DeWaegeneer served as the color guard commander for the event, and said “I’ve served in the military for five years and any day that I can represent and wear my uniform is always a good day for me.”
Allison Johnson, 19, a sophomore and music education major, had come to sing the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” with the university’s Femmes de Chanson choir.
Johnson said both her grandfather and great uncle had served in the military and had recently passed away.
“I think that (Veterans Day) is honoring people from generations ago that often are overlooked, so I think it is important to think about them on this day.”
Maryland Newsline’s Emily Kimball contributed to this report.