On Veterans Day, Northeastern honors servicemembers, partnership with the military

Northeastern University on Monday Nov. 12, 2018 held its annual Veterans Day ceremony to honor past and present members of the university community who have served their country. Remarks were given by Mike Pasqua, President, Northeastern Student Veterans Organization, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Luchetta, NUROTC Professor of Military Science, Neal Finnegan, Chairman of the Board Emeritus, Rear Admiral Danelle Barrett, Director, U.S. Navy Cyber Security Division Director, and Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

One hundred years after the death of Pvt. Peter Waldie, much of his life remains a mystery. What we do know was that the Scottish immigrant served in World War I. He was a chemical engineering student at Northeastern University who was set to graduate in 1921. He was among the many who died of the flu immediately after the war. And on Monday, Waldie’s nameplate joined those of hundreds of alumni veterans on the Northeastern Veterans Memorial.

“It is fitting that this Northeastern student-soldier served in the First World War. We are remembering this year the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which marked the end of that world war,” said Neal F. Finnegan, chair emeritus of the Northeastern University Board of Trustees, at the university’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Northeastern’s partnership with the military, a commitment honored during Monday’s ceremony on the university’s Boston campus.

“Our university never stopped embracing the military, and has the largest continuing ROTC program in New England,” Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun said, addressing the crowd gathered on the Neal F. Finnegan plaza at the heart of campus.

Part of the university’s commitment is evident in the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, a nationally recognized hub of security-related research between faculty and federal agencies. The research has a particular focus on foiling terrorist threats, developing sensing technology, and preventing cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, websites, and battlefield units.

The institute’s work, said Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, director of the U.S. Navy Cybersecurity Division, is the forefront of military research.

“My shipmates are deployed around the world to protect America, to prevent and deter wars, and, when necessary, to fight and win them; and that includes cyberwars,” Barrett said. “The Navy preserves our freedom in cyberspace, which fundamentally depends on securing reliable information. In this endeavor, we partner with Northeastern University, and that close partnership gives us the best, cutting-edge collaboration that we could have to give us a sustained advantage in cyberspace.”

Mike Pasqua, president of Northeastern Student Veterans Organization, helped to organize Monday’s ceremony. Pasqua, an Air Force veteran, is one of more than 600 student veterans at Northeastern.

“Sitting here today, I never thought I’d find myself representing the veterans of Northeastern,” he said. “I believe, however, I can tell why I found myself at Northeastern: Veterans never stop serving. Leaving the military didn’t mean I was losing my service, and that’s because servicemembers always have something more to give. I found myself here because there’s a strong, honest veteran community… always finding new ways to give.”

Lieutenant Col. Joseph Luchetta, professor of military science at Northeastern, echoed Pasqua’s emphasis on service, adding that it was “the willingness of ordinary citizens to answer the future nation’s call to arms” in the Civil War that “led to our independence.”

The partnership between Northeastern and the military began during World War I, when the university first formed the Student Army Training Corps. “It set us on a path with many notable moments and accomplishments along the way,” said Andy McCarty, director of the Dolce Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers.

The Dolce Center first opened in 2015 as the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers, and was renamed in 2017 after the university received a $1 million gift to fund its services. The center serves to support student veterans as they make the transition from their Northeastern education to graduate programs or employment.

“We cannot take for granted the fact that you are keeping us safe and free,” Aoun said to the servicemembers gathered Monday. The Kostas Institute, the Dolce Center, and Northeastern’s longstanding ROTC program, he said, are ways “for us to play a small role in helping this great nation.”

Aria Bracci contributed to this report. For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu.