Honoring Those Who Served

By Rachael Powles '22, November 18, 2021
Ithaca College celebrates Veterans Day.

Ithaca College’s 18th Annual Veterans Day Celebration, held on November 11, saw Ford Hall in the School of Music lit in red, white and blue; while veterans, families and students took time out of their day to express gratitude for the U.S. Armed Services.

Art Ostrander, dean emeritus of the School of Music and U.S. aArmy veteran, served as the master of ceremonies for the event, which featured performances of patriotic songs and hymns from music students; including the Treble Chorale, the Trombone Troupe and the Graduate Brass Quintet. When the quintet performed the “Armed Forces Salute,” veterans in the audience were encouraged to stand when they heard their branch’s anthem, a gesture that was met with applause.

This year’s distinguished guest speaker, retired Army Specialist Alaric Young, stressed the need for continued support for veterans in the Tompkins County area. Young currently serves as captain for Team Depot, an organization within Home Depot that works to improve the lives of veterans within their own communities.

“It is very near and dear to my heart that we recognize our veterans whether they are on campus or off campus. Veterans gave so much to their country, that even just a small celebration is not nearly enough to show them that we appreciate all that they have done for us and their country.”

Karena Krauss, chair of the Veterans Day Celebration Ceremony

“I did not find it easy to return from the military,” Young said. “I found just living day to day was a battle. Volunteer work helped me get myself back together.”

Karena Krauss, chair of the Veterans Day Celebration Ceremony and accounts payable specialist in the Office of Financial Services, then took to the podium to acknowledge the passing of Douglas Armstrong in June 2020. Armstrong taught in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Ithaca College from 1968 to 1995 and had served in the Army during the Korean War as a first lieutenant and platoon leader. He had always brought in his medals to display at the Veterans Day Celebration, and Krauss expressed her gratitude for his support of veterans in the IC community throughout his life.

Show Your Support

Those interested in supporting veterans at Ithaca College are encouraged to email Karena Krauss at veteranscommittee@ithaca.edu.

“We will miss Doug and all that he brought to our country, Ithaca College and our Veterans Day committee,” said Krauss. “To quote Joseph Campbell, ‘A hero is someone who has given his or her life for something bigger than oneself.’ Doug gave to his country, his family, his students and to Ithaca College, all wholeheartedly.”

Krauss said that veterans on campus have been working to create community spaces and organizations to further veterans’ support services, both within IC and the Tompkins County region. One project, Operation Green Light, involves replacing front porch lights with green light bulbs, a symbol of hope, renewal and well-being for veterans. This year Ithaca College turned its lights at the Dillingham Center and Athletics & Events Center green in honor of this initiative.

The celebration closed with a performance of “Taps” by trumpet players Michael Stern ’22 and Mejia Nathalie ’22. For Stern, it was a privilege to continue the tradition of saluting those who served.

“My family has been attending the college’s Veterans Day Celebration since its inception,” he said. “My grandfather attended the United States Military Academy before serving multiple tours in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early ’70s. While he was fortunate enough to return home each time, he knew many who were not. This nearness to the horrors of war has left my family acutely aware of not only the ultimate sacrifices that were paid abroad, but also the pain that’s felt upon returning home as well. Having the opportunity to play ’Taps’ anywhere is always incredibly meaningful because of the way I know it can touch someone.”

Krauss also felt a personal connection to the event.

It is very near and dear to my heart that we recognize our veterans whether they are on campus or off campus,” she said. “My father and brother were both veterans. Veterans gave so much to their country, that even just a small celebration is not nearly enough to show them that we appreciate all that they have done for us and their country.”