Dixie State celebrates Veterans Day with program, new center

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University celebrated Veterans Day during a ceremony Friday morning, and also celebrated the opening of its new Veteran Success Center on campus.

“Tomorrow is the 11th of November. It will mark nearly a full century since the signing of the armistice and an end to the horrors of the Great War,” said Jonathan LaForce, a DSU English major and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan.

DSU student and Marine veteran Jonathan LaForce speaks during Dixie State University’s Veterans Day ceremony, St. George, Utah, Nov. 10, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Speaking of the sacrifices and difficulties members of the military and their families have endured for generations, LaForce said, “These hardships are a privilege to bear.”

“Just as Memorial Day is set aside for the remembrance of our dead, so is this day ordained for a higher purpose,” he said, noting that Veterans Day is a time for recognizing and honoring all those who have served in the military, living or dead.

Utah State Sen. Evan Vickers also addressed the audience, saying, “I feel like there’s one constant that has continued throughout this tumultuous time, and that has been the respect and appreciation for those who serve in the military. I hope this is the case, and I believe that it is.”

Vickers also stressed the importance of providing quality educational opportunities to veterans.

Noting the high incidence of suicide among military veterans, Vickers also stressed the importance of providing them with mental and emotional assistance.

“We need to support our veterans, our returning veterans, in every way possible,” Vickers said.

Army Chaplain and DSU professor David Jones offers opening prayer during Dixie State University’s Veterans Day ceremony, St. George, Utah, Nov. 10, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

In conjunction with the program, the campus’ new Veteran Success Center, which has been operating since August on the first floor of the Val A. Browning Learning Resource Center, was formally introduced and given a public welcome.

Peter Gitau, DSU’s vice president of Student Affairs, heralded the new center as “a place on campus … our veteran students can call home.”

The Veteran Success Center offers a variety of resources to the estimated 200-400 DSU students who are military veterans or who are on active or reserve duty.

Gitau said the center offers academic advising, mentoring and other support resources, including help in applying for benefits such as tuition assistance. It also has a lounge where veteran students can relax and unwind, read, visit with other students, use the computers or study.  

“It’s not huge, but it is a good start,” Gitau said, thanking the DSU administration for its help in making the new facility a reality.

Veterans in audience stand as a medley of military songs is played during Dixie State University’s Veterans Day ceremony, St. George, Utah, Nov. 10, 2017 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Veterans in the audience were recognized and thanked for their service.

Members of each of the five branches of the U.S. armed forces stood as portions of their respective hymns or anthems were played, while color guard members displayed that branch’s official flag.

The national anthem, along with a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” were performed by the Dixie State Chamber Singers. Steve Roberts, DSU’s VA compliance coordinator, served as the program’s master of ceremonies.

DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams also delivered brief remarks, thanking the military members and their families for their sacrifice and service. He also expressed appreciation to those who assisted with the event, including head organizer Sonja Blea, who is the office manager for the DSU Multicultural and Inclusion Center.

Among the refreshments was a birthday cake decorated in honor of the U.S. Marine Corps’ 242nd anniversary.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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