Today, we honor all those who have served in the military.
By Robert A. Scott, President, Adelphi University
Memorial Day, Garden City, NY, May 26, 2014
Commander Frey, distinguished guests, neighbors, I am honored to be part of this ceremony and to represent Adelphi University as well as my own military service. As some of you know, I helped then United States Senator Hillary Clinton author the 21st Century GI Bill. Adelphi now enrolls about one hundred veterans under this program and I was proud to congratulate many of them who graduated from our University last Monday.
My father was a veteran and I never doubted that I would serve in the U. S. Navy as he had. In fact, I brought his “Bluejackets Manual” in my seabag with me when I went to be stationed at Subic Bay during the Vietnam era.
Today, we honor all those who have served in the military. In doing so, we do not honor war or celebrate conquest: today we honor all those who entered battle under our flag – whether they fought for the North or the South, whether they died in combat or suffer still because they were saved from death but not from their wounds.
In the words of former Adelphi Trustee, last week’s commencement speaker, and now Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, “War must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs… War violates the natural order of things, in which children bury their parents; in war parents bury their children… Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human races continually strives.”
During this and the coming year, we at Adelphi have a full set of programs on the 100th anniversary of World War I, the war that was to end all wars, and the continuing threats to peace. All are invited.
In 2006, when I learned of the death of Michael LiCalzi, the only Garden City resident to die in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I prepared this prose-poem.
Michael was the son of people I knew, and he was a student in my brother-in-law’s department at the Naval Academy where Michael was highly regarded. When I thought of his death, senseless as it was, and all military deaths, and how senseless so many are, I began to reflect on life and its meaning, whether that life is from the South or the North.
This is what I wrote:
“A Memorial Day Tribute”
I am a patriot
who loves my nation and
the ideals on which it stands;
I am an American
who believes that my country
has grown and developed through
successive waves of immigrants who
subscribe to our common values;
I am a citizen
who strives to ensure
the continued vitality of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution;
I am a veteran, and the son of a veteran,
who knows that heroic figures are those who sacrifice for the common good;
I am a student of history and politics
who knows the value of diplomacy
and the role of the military in ensuring our nation’s security;
I am an educator
who teaches critical thinking
and independence of thought;
I am a leader
who believes that, in all things,
truth matters, integrity counts;
I am a father and grandfather
who wants my family, and your family, and everyone’s family,
to enjoy the fruits of democracy, the responsibilities of freedom, and the
privileges of citizenship;
I am an advocate of informed
and civil debate, and abhor how
divisive politics has become;
I am a spiritual person
who believes in tolerance
and knows that you can
be right without my being wrong;
I am a mourner
who grieves for all those
we honor today, those
of the North and those of
I am a father, a friend, a professional,
I am “everyman.”
I am your neighbor.
And, in the end, we are one.
First read at the Garden City Memorial Day Ceremony, May 29, 2006, in honor of 1st Lt. Michael L. LiCalzi, who died in Iraq May 11, 2006. Revised for May 2008. Revised again for 2014.
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