As the American flag flies high on campus and the sound of a lone trumpet carries through the air on Veterans Day, UCLA's Andrew Nicholls will be standing at attention, but his mind will be far from campus. His thoughts, instead, will be with service members who have guarded and who continue to guard the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by those living in the United States.
[Update, Thursday, Nov. 8, 1:50 p.m.: Due to the potential for rain, the UCLA Veterans Day ceremony will now be held indoors, at Collins Court in the John Wooden Center (map). It is anticipated that the F-16 flyover will be canceled.]
"I'll think about my dad, I'll think about my uncles, I'll think about people still serving and I'll think about the friends that I've lost," said Nicholls, who joined UCLA last year as the veterans' coordinator for UCLA's Veterans Resource Office after serving eight years in the U.S. Army, including a stint in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
This year's campus Veterans Day ceremony, hosted by Chancellor Gene Block and the UCLA departments of aerospace studies, military science and naval science, will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 9 at the bottom of Janss Steps. Those planning to attend are encouraged to R.S.V.P.
The annual event is a time for the UCLA community to come together to honor individuals who have served in the U.S. military and fought for the country during wartime. Those heroes include countless UCLA students, alumni, staff and faculty members. Since World War II, more than 200 UCLA students and alumni have lost their lives in U.S.–involved wars.
In addition to honoring veterans of past and current armed conflicts, the solemn event allows the community to recognize the next generation of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps leaders, said Col. John Carl, professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Naval Science. "Many of the future leaders of our country are here in our Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)," he said.
The ceremony will feature remarks from Chancellor Block; Jim Cragg, a veteran and UCLA alumnus who is president and CEO of Special Operations Technologies Inc.; and California state Sen. Ted Lieu. A flyover by several F-16 Fighting Falcons and formations by color-guard and ROTC cadets representing various military units are also planned. "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Taps" will be performed by UCLA doctoral candidate Courtney Jones, who has trained with the likes of virtuoso trumpeters Jens Lindemann and Wynton Marsalis.
The event will also highlight some of the issues faced by veterans returning from war, Carl said. Upwards of 20 percent of those who have served in combat in the last 11 years suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder; some have experienced traumatic brain injuries and other impairments, he said. Following the ceremony, several booths will provide information on supportive services for veterans on campus. In addition, all who attend will be invited to write letters of support to our troops serving overseas.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines all gain valuable skills in the military that that can be translated into other fields once they return from service, said Carl. Those who choose to attend college are often older when they first enroll and possess a higher level of maturity, a wealth of real-world experience, and different perspectives and viewpoints — all of which add to the diversity of the UCLA campus.
"Many of the 336 veterans attending UCLA honed leadership skills in the stressful conditions of combat," said Carl. "Those who served in a combat-support role also developed as leaders and bring their leadership skills and experiences to the classroom. Veterans bring much to the UCLA community."