Experience

Veterans made a choice to make a difference

Jan Garrison
 

The 'common folks' who serve

 

November 12, 2020

Veterans come from all walks of life.

They are our friends, family members, community leaders, dignitaries, and “common folks,” said Scott R. Collins, the speaker at Culver Academies’ Veterans Day ceremony. But they all share a common bond.

They understand that freedom isn’t free and they answered that call to safeguard our liberty.

Collins, who as the chief of staff/director of State Operations for the Indiana Adjutant General’s Office, serves as the main advisor to Brig. Gen. R. Dale Lyles on all matters concerning the Indiana Military Department and the coordination of federal military programs with state government. He is also active in military cadet programs and has served as the state’s liaison officer to Culver Military Academy.

While he was an active military leader in state government, Collins has seen soldiers go to battle against enemies “foreign or domestic.” But, he said, soldiers also answer the call when “Mother Nature sends flooding, forest fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. You will find members of the military services doing their best to secure our safety.”

“And when we are confronted with a deadly disease, public emergencies or pandemics, personnel donning the attire of our uniformed services are tacking the most difficult situations imaginable,” he said.

 

Scott Collins addressing the first classmen and seniors.

 

Through the years, some of these soldiers have volunteered, he said, others were drafted. “Some enjoyed a peacetime setting, while others endured the heat of battle.” Some served briefly. Others chose service as a career path.

But, he added, the common denominator is that they all chose service to their country above self.

Culver Academies has successfully emphasized the importance of such leadership in all its various forms through the institution’s history, he added. He told the reduced audience of CMA first classmen and CGA seniors attending the ceremony that they should be able to recognize the importance of having a military “with the lofty goal of securing and maintaining the blessings of liberty.”

Collins then asked them if they could leave their family and friends, and the comforts of a secure environment to “address a potential or confirmed threat. Do you believe that you could go into harm’s way to ensure the wellbeing of others? Would you be willing to sacrifice your own life to defend the rights that have been purchased at such a terrible cost by those who came before us?”

 

Culver's ceremony has changed very little since 1924.

 

He reminded them of Army Sgt. Gordon D. Yntema ’63, one of Culver’s five Medal of Honor recipients, who was cited for his exceptional valor while facing insurmountable odds in the Vietnam War. He was killed during that battle.

That is why “the full measure of our gratitude cannot be adequately expressed as we ponder the tremendous debt that we owe to our veterans,” he said. And he asked the students “to help educate others concerning the respect that we should be extending to those who have served in uniform for your benefit.”

And, as the military continues to modernize and reform, Collins said it will still focus on people and readiness. And we, as citizens, will always continue to honor those individuals who have served and those who “follow in their courageous footsteps.”

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