The Ross Pendergraft Library’s fifth and final event as a part of the series “World War I and America” ended with a big turnout honoring veterans.
The Veterans Appreciation event took place on Thurs., November 9, two days before Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11. An array of information tables and services were presented, including the Pope County Veteran Services and the Arkansas Veteran Benefits Administration, which offered information on benefits such as life insurance, pension and education.
The program began with the Presentation of Colors by Arkansas Tech’s Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, which was sung by a part of Arkansas Tech’s Choir. American Legion presented the flag in honor of Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action. Coordinator Luke Heffley honored the veterans that were present by playing the Armed Forces Medley. In addition, The Pope County Patriot Stitchers presented Quilts of Valor to four veterans that attended the event.
Col. Nathaniel Todd was invited to be the speaker for the Veterans Appreciation Event. Todd, who is currently director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, is both well-educated and has won many awards. His education comes from University of Houston, Baylor University, George Washington University, Syracuse University and National Defense University. He has also won the Legion of Merit and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. However, his speech was not focused on his time in active duty or related to his background. Rather, he focused primarily on thanking others and bringing light to what veterans do for the American people.
Len Cotton, current chairman of the Arkansas Veterans Commission, introduced Col. Todd, with only good words to say about him. In conversation with Governor Hutchinson, the governor mentioned that Todd is a humble man. Cotton agreed, “He is, and he is a very intelligent man, and not only that, he is a great leader.”
Todd began with speaking highly of Arkansas Tech and its alumni, of young people and of Governor Hutchinson. Col. Todd related to the audience by making people aware of who veterans are: “Our veterans are our grandfathers, our fathers, our mothers, our sisters, our nieces, our brothers, our aunts.” Colonel Todd made it clear that no matter the reason they served, the fact of the matter is that that they still served, and we should honor them because of it. “We must ensure that we respect their abilities for leadership, their ability to bring value to the workplace, their ability to problem-solve and the right to stand salute to our flag. We must ensure that those who have the battle scars, both seen and unseen, that they have proper access to medical treatment and to civilian career opportunities.”
Colonel Todd encouraged young people to serve. Not necessarily in the military, but to everything that students do. Young people are the next generation, which is why he encouraged Tech students to “be the smartest you can be.”
The event ended with a drawing in which would give the winner a chance to honor a veteran with a tile at the Veterans Memorial Park Walk of Honor.
For more information on the library’s upcoming events, students can visit library.atu.edu or http://blogs.atu.edu/library, or call Ross Pendergraft Library at (479) 964-0569.