The afternoon event, organized by UH-Clear Lake Office of University Advancement Executive Secretary Cheryl Rohde, included a special program that offered thanks to veterans and their families. UH-Clear Lake Associate Professor of Legal Studies James Benson and UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples, both U.S. Army veterans, welcomed guests to the event. Special recognition during this year’s event was given to Vietnam-era veterans.
“We have 21.8 million veterans in our country according to the U.S. Census,” said Staples. “Approximately 1.6 million of these veterans live in Texas.”
Staples added a brief history of UH-Clear Lake’s annual celebration emphasizing the persistence of Benson who cofounded the event with alumna, colleague and 2003 UH-Clear Lake Alumni Association President Esther Anderson. The two worked collaboratively with the Office of Alumni and Community Relations to host the first celebration in 2003. The annual event grew every year and at the urging of Benson and Anderson while working with Associate Vice President of University Advancement Dion McInnis, Liberty Park was created near the Student Service and Classroom Building, offering a place for reflection while seated near the U.S. flag, Texas flag and the university flag.
An invocation was offered by Associate Professor Emeritus of Healthcare Administration Paul Bruder, while Clear Lake High School Jr. Army ROTC Color Guard under the direction of Senior Director Army Capt. Timothy Burroughs and Army Instructor Sgt. 1st Class Michael Turnage presented and posted the colors. Several songs including the national anthem and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” were led by First Church of Pearland Associate Pastor and Worship Leader Tyler Walea.
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Robert Naughton, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, presented “The Call to Serve,” thanked the university for remembering to honor veterans and urged all Americans to get involved in some way.
“Many seem to know their rights, but few know their responsibility,” said Naughton who urged those who can’t or haven’t served in uniform to offer their support by volunteering to welcome home returning soldiers by helping them assimilate back into society.
During the Open Forum portion of the event, all were invited to share their thoughts. Veteran and UH-Clear Lake student Randy Seawright took the open mic opportunity to announce the creation of a UH-Clear Lake Veterans Service Office, which will open during the spring 2013 semester. The new office will serve as a one-stop shop that will provide information on financial aid and military service credit for current military and veterans, as well as help students address university affairs before deploying. It will also serve as a central point connecting students and university services to support student success.
The event concluded with an original poem titled “Welcome Home” written and presented by UH-Clear Lake Associate Vice President for University Advancement Dion McInnis for all veterans and, particularly, the Vietnam era veterans, as well as a final thank you.
All interested in supporting veterans at UH-Clear Lake may do so by supporting the UHCL Veterans Scholarship Endowment, which was established in 2002 and helps veterans reach their educational goals. To make a contribution to the scholarship or to find out about the Veterans Services Office, call the Office of University Advancement, 281-283-2021, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit http://www.uhcl.edu.