This week, November 6 to 12, signifies many different things for the Andrews community. Fall winds are starting to prepare us for winter cold, students and teachers are prepping for the last several weeks before final exams, and we participate in two major American events: Election Day and Veterans Day. In order to commemorate both of these days, Andrews’ professors Seth and Dr. Heather Thompson Day had a pop-up chapel presentation to celebrate the sacrifices and significance of United States military veterans.
The program, which was hosted in Buller Hall’s Newbold Auditorium on November 8—Election Day—started off with opening remarks by former veteran and Andrews University employee Keith Mattingly. Mattingly spoke to students and guests on the historical significance of United States veterans, while also acknowledging the military veterans of other nations, recognizing that “Andrews University is an international institution.” After his remarks, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the United States National Anthem was sung, along with a moment of silence for fallen heroes accompanying a prayer by another former professor and retired military chaplain James North Jr.
The keynote speakers then took the microphone, first with Dr. Heather Thompson Day speaking on honoring the legacy and particularly the stories of veterans. Giving their lives and stories individual significance and purpose helps each sacrifice become more recognized. Treating each individual veteran as a unique person with experiences that are original to that person, who are also living with the unique consequences of serving their country's military, is a much more humanizing way to consider and appreciate our nation's heroes.
Professor and Minister Seth Day then spoke, accompanied by a video presentation. The video was a six-minute snippet of a much larger interview between retired veteran Dave Bankston and Seth Day. Bankston, who is the uncle of Seth Day, got a chance to share his own unique story of service and sacrifice. Bankston was able to specifically share about how his and other veterans’ mental well-being were negatively impacted after leaving the military. This consequently often puts themselves and others at risk for being hurt. He also explained how the regimented lifestyle imprinted on his own life as seen in the way he continually operates on a rigid schedule, similar to the practices used during his time in the military. Finally, Bankston suggested ways for veterans to cope with life after the military and how to find jobs that favored veterans.
After special music performed by Andrews University students and closing remarks from our university chaplain Jose Bourget, I was able to take time to interview both Seth and Heather Day.
Interview with Seth Day and Heather Thompson Day
What was the overall goal for this event and in your presentations?
HTD: “We just wanted to take a moment and honor the story of the veterans who have served our country and more specifically relate it to our community and our campus. So, when the Provost had asked us if we would be a part of Veterans Day we were just honored to be able to take a moment to pause and think about the service that other people have done for our country.”
Do you know any other veterans personally, and what has been their impact(s) on your life?
SD: “So [Mr. Bankston] is my uncle and I also have a brother who served in the Navy. Doing this project honestly deepened my appreciation [for them], having interviewed him.”
How do you both usually acknowledge and celebrate Veterans Day?
SD: “Usually by saying thank you. If my family is around maybe, we’ll try to take the veterans out to eat or something. But most certainly moving forward, having relished this event today, I’m going to see what I can do for my neighbors and [other] things in my community.”
As we move forward this week and this month, it is essential for each and everyone of us as students, faculty, and staff take time to recognize the second greatest sacrifice ever performed for us, either as citizens or temporary residents of this free nation. So try to take time to just reach out and acknowledge a veteran for their service and sacrifice in a compassionate way moving forward.
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