Host members of the Saint Michael's chapter of Student Veterans of America pose in front of the Colors at Thursday evening's events in Dion Family Student Center. Their adviser, Ken O'Connell, is at far right.
The First Annual Saint Michael's College Military Community Gallery Reception took place the evening of Thursday, November 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Dion Family Student Center Third Floor Edmundite Solarium area, celebrating both the Marine Corps 241st Birthday on Thursday and Veterans Day, which is today (Friday, November 11).
The event, organized by the campus chapter of the Student Veterans Association of America, was designed to recognize the College’s military tradition and its present growing military community, according to SVA leaders. The hosting chapter members and their adviser, Ken McConnell, director of the Office of Military Family Services, looked sharp in formal evening wear -- in some cases their military uniforms.
One special guest was Edmundite Rev. Ray Doherty, SSE, a Marine Corps veteran who offered the opening prayer incorporating special words about military service, veterans and active-duty personnel. Father Ray shared that Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford ‘77, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, had sent along to him by email best wishes to the campus military community for the event.
Many from the SVA group – President Victoria Smith, Vice President Lance Jandreau and active member Chris Boutin -- offered remarks from a lectern at the evening’s start to express gratitude and their hopes for new programs and outreach, before circulating warmly among special guests, who included military personnel from nearby bases in uniform, and several alumni veterans or military supporters who had traveled from as far as Virginia or New Hampshire just for this event, given how important it was to them. Smith presented a new logo for the campus SVA chapter that she had helped design, incorporating symbols of Michael the Archangel (patron saint of military), which she says means so much to her.
Also attending were Saint Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser, who offered remarks at the start, Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino, Vice President for Student Affairs Dawn Ellinwood, Vice President for Human Resources Michael New (himself an Army veteran active in promoting the campus military community); Vice President for Institutional Advancement Richard Daniel; Alumni Director Angela Armour, along with several Institutional Advancement and Alumni Office staff. Faculty also were well-represented, including Trish Siplon, professor of political science, who described herself as a “military brat” who grew up in a military family; and R. Michael Olson, associate professor and chair of philosophy, who served in the Army Rangers.
Displays set up around the reception area celebrated various aspects of the college’s military history and affiliations. One poster board had photos and biographies of SVA members explaining why their membership is important. Another was about connections to nearby Camp Johnson and the National Guard Museum. And guests could see the Medal of Honor of Col. Donald Cook ’56 and read the citation about his heroic service.
Sodexo provided heavy Hors D’oevres for the occasion, and guests shared a large decorated “birthday cake” for the Marine birthday -- a work of art by Sodexo baker, Neil Fitzgerald, himself a Marine veteran of "Desert Storm and the son of a naval officer killed in action in Vietnam, after whom a ship is dedicated, "The U.S.S. Fitzgerald," according to Fr. Ray Doherty. An event program contained words from Abraham Lincoln, and the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.