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A "Tribute to the Troops"

November 12, 2013

The Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard of Dieruff High School, with SPC Brian Smith '14, Band of Brothers presidentThe warmth of Northampton Community College's annual "Tribute to the Troops" Veterans Day event certainly exceeded the unseasonably cold weather that forced the ceremony to be moved indoors. A large audience gathered in the David A. Reed Community Room on November 12 to recognize the contributions of veterans and to thank the past year's donors to the plaza in the Susan K. Kubik Tribute Garden.

Veterans, students, staff, faculty and dignitaries, including Congressman Charlie Dent, were on hand as the second phase of the four-phase Tribute to the Troops Veterans Plaza was inaugurated. The plaza includes a large boulder excavated from the Main Campus, which forms the base for a bronze sculpture representing a fallen soldier, with boots, rifle and helmet. There is space for engraved pavers, which are available for purchase. Phase II will include a lighted flagpole and five Pennsylvania bluestone columns paying tribute to each branch of the military.

After the presenting of the colors by Dieruff High School's Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard, and a moving rendition of the National Anthem sung a capella by U.S. Marine Corps Reservist Sgt. Carl Rice '14, SPC Brian Smith '14, an army veteran of Desert Storm and president of the Band of Brothers club,  thanked contributors to the plaza. The club has been raising funds for the project since 2009.

Congressman Charlie DentCongressman Dent spoke of the struggles of returning veterans, and urged the audience to say thank you to veterans and to "do the older ones in your neighborhood a favor - maybe take their garbage out - anything to acknowledge the sacrifices they've made."

History professor Dr. Michael McGovern spoke about NCC's commitment to veterans through two important projects: "Off to War and Coming Home," a year-long series of programs and activities about military veterans from 1946 to the present, and the veterans oral history project currently underway at NCC.  "NCC is enriched by the presence of veterans. Their perseverance in the face of relentless fear is the very definition of courage."

Michael Sparrow, director of NCC's Learning Center and a Navy veteran, spoke about the importance of helping veterans at the college to pursue their educational goals. "There is a sense of mission within each veteran ... and they have difficulty putting themselves above others and in seeing their education as their new mission." He urged those at the college to become a mentor to a veteran, and to get involved and contribute to Band of Brothers projects. "Let's make every day here Veterans Day."

NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson thanked veterans and told of a conversation he had with two of NCC's own veterans, who related their struggles and how important the college is in their moving forward. He thanked Band of Brothers for supporting NCC's veterans and for the Tribute to the Troops plaza.

At the conclusion of the remarks, SSG Keith Beyer of the 78th Army Band, USAR, played "Taps," and the color guard retired the colors. Those in attendance were invited to a luncheon immediately following,  sponsored by the Band of Brothers.

For more information on the Veterans Plaza project, or to be part of the Tribute Garden, please contact Paul Acampora at 610-332-6170, or pacampora@northampton.edu.


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