The Northeastern community honored the nation’s veterans and service members on Friday at the university’s annual Veterans Day ceremony, where speakers commended those who have served for their sacrifice, their leadership, and their courage.
“We are here to celebrate you, to support you, and to thank you,” said President Joseph E. Aoun.
Aoun underscored that Northeastern has long embraced its relationship with the military and its support of veterans. “That’s the story of Northeastern,” he said. This relationship spans from its long-time commitment to ROTC and to educating student veterans, to its robust research portfolio in security across areas such as cybersecurity, explosives detection, resilience, and robotics.
Maj. Gen. Dwyer Dennis, program executive officer for C3I and networks at Hanscom Air Force Base and who oversees more than 2,200 personnel and an $11 billion cybersecurity portfolio, also highlighted the university’s military commitment and partnerships. Among these is a partnership between Hanscom and Northeastern’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security designed to facilitate education and workforce development opportunities for Hanscom employees and enable collaboration on security research.
In recognizing Veterans Day, Dennis said, “Today we honor the sacrifice and frankly the courage of our nation’s military veterans and service members. Our men and women who are serving today are continuing to answer freedom’s call.”
At the end of the ceremony, Aoun and Dennis laid a wreath at the Veterans Memorial in remembrance of the nation’s veterans.
I’m very proud, as I know all of you are, that our school stops to remember every Veterans Day, in this stirring and beautiful way, all those who served our nation and those who fell answering the call of our nation.
—Neal Finnegan, chair emeritus, Northeastern University Board of Trustees
This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the dedication of Northeastern’s Veterans Memorial on Neal F. Finnegan Plaza. The memorial commemorates students and alumni who gave their lives in service of their country. Aoun thanked Neal Finnegan, DMSB’61, H’98, chair emeritus of the Northeastern University Board of Trustees, for leading the effort to build the memorial on campus.
“I’m very proud, as I know all of you are, that our school stops to remember every Veterans Day, in this stirring and beautiful way, all those who served our nation and those who fell answering the call of our nation,” Finnegan said.
In 1918, the U.S. government implemented a Student Army Training Corps program at Northeastern. Since 1950, Northeastern has hosted a Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program on campus. Approximately 4,000 Northeastern alumni who were enrolled in ROTC have been commissioned into the U.S. Army and other services. The current ROTC formation at Northeastern is an Army ROTC unit known as Liberty Battalion. Northeastern is the battalion’s host institution, and it includes cadets from other Boston-area universities as well.
We are here to celebrate you, to support you, and to thank you.
—Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun
Northeastern’s commitment to the military is underscored by a number of initiatives, programs, and partnerships. This fall, Northeastern opened a Veterans of Foreign Wars post—the first to be opened in Massachusetts since 2009 and only the second in the nation to be led by student veterans on a college campus.
Last year alone, Northeastern launched the Center for Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers; signed a first-of-its kind agreement with the National Guard to enable guardsmen to earn master’s degrees in homeland security; and secured a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to conduct critical defense research, specifically in designing and developing advanced engineered materials.
The university also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a federal program that allows post-9/11 veterans to earn college degrees at little or no cost. Dennis noted that Northeastern ranks among the top private research universities in the nation for enrolling post-9/11 GI bill recipients.
In 2010, members of Northeastern’s veterans community founded the Student Veterans Organization. At Friday’s Veterans Day ceremony, John McGuinness, the organization’s president, thanked veterans for their service and called upon them to find new ways to lead back home—whether it be running for public office, being leaders in their communities, or simply leading by example.
“The world needs leadership now more than ever, because we are more divided now than ever,” said McGuinness, E’19. “I call on all of you to serve one more time. Be the leaders we so desperately need.”
In his remarks, Lt. Col. Tim Ferguson, commander of Liberty Battalion ROTC and professor of military science, gave recognition in particular to the veterans of the Vietnam War, of which the nation is now commemorating the 50th anniversary. Ferguson noted that 1,600 veterans of that war are still unaccounted for, and there are 31 names of fallen service members of that war on Northeastern’s Veterans Memorial.
“Today, we recognize and celebrate all of our veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” he said. “Let us not forget those qualities in ourselves as citizens, and in each and everyone of us to resolve to treat each other with dignity and respect and work together to find common ground as we continue to embark to move forward.”