By Brooke Bentley | Reporter
Baylor honored veterans on Thursday with a Veterans Day Ceremony as part of a series of events to celebrate those who have served. Following an electric guitar rendition of the national anthem and a prayer, guest speaker Col. William Dwiggins, Veterans Education Regional Coordinator for the Texas Veterans Commission and Marine Corps veteran, spoke on God, oaths, patriotism and unity.
Organized by the Veterans of Baylor, Veteran Education and Transitional Services (VETS) and the Army and Air Force ROTC, the event was held at 3:30 p.m. in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center following a Veterans Day event at the Baylor Law School on Thursday morning.
“We have 133 student veterans here on campus, and we’ve got a mission statement here at Baylor to educate men and woman for worldwide leadership and service. And I think what’s neat about our student veterans is that they’ve already completed one chapter of that call,” Baylor VETS Program Manager Kevin Davis said. “I just hope that we can come together as a community to, one, recognize their prior service and their prior commitment to that calling, but then also let’s come together as a community and support them as they transition into the next chapters of worldwide leadership.”
Davis, a Marine Corps veteran, teaches a veteran transition course at Baylor designed to assist student veterans in their transition by offering them resources and opportunities that will help them succeed in the classroom. The program also provides mentoring and partnerships with Baylor’s counseling center and career and professional development center.
Dwiggins spoke on the importance of understanding the sacrifices that serving requires and being willing to listen to veterans and their stories.
“Just be willing to lend a friendly ear to the person because they may see something in you that they don’t see elsewhere and they just may start talking, and when they do talk it’s very therapeutic for them. They just want to get their story out,” Dwiggins said. “My mom used to always say, a smile never cost anything, and so you may smile at a person and then never say anything to them, but that person may have wanted to go out and do harm to themselves but they saw that you looked them in the eye and smiled at them and then said, ‘Wow, I do have that’. That can be the greatest turning point in a person’s life when they think that they have nothing else to live for.”
Manuel Nelson, a retired first sergeant and a Purple Heart recipient in attendance, said he hopes events like this will help young people to understand the impact that serving abroad has on those who serve when they return home.
In light of recent controversies about the presidential election, Dwiggins also emphasized the importance of unity and supporting each other, regardless of race, gender or political party.
“I think that regardless of rank or ethnicity or gender, you treat people the way you want to be treated, and it means everything in the world,” Dwiggins said. “We’re all the same because at the end of the day if you turned the lights out in this room and you couldn’t see somebody’s skin color or eye color or hair color and you just heard voices, that’s all you really need to look at in your life and in your mind.”
The final event of the Veterans Day celebration will be a Veterans Tailgate for the Baylor v. OU game, which will take place two hours prior to kick-off on Saturday in the tailgate area by the Mayborn Museum Complex. Food will be provided by George’s Restaurant and the event is open to all veterans and their families.