SUU Celebrates Veterans Day

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SUU celebrated Veterans Day by hosting the Veterans Day Observance at 11 a.m. and the Students Veterans Association Banquet at 6 p.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall in the Hunter Conference Center.

The observance began with welcoming remarks from host Caleb Vadnais, SUU veterans affairs director and school certifying official, followed by the presentation of colors.

Keynote speaker Command Sergeant Major Michael Miller discussed the impact that veterans and active military members have on the lives of US citizens.

“For generations we have had giants step-up (and) raise their right arm, to swear and defend our great nation,” Miller said. “These giants are our veterans.”

Steve Shirts and the Cedar City High School Symphonic Band then played “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other patriotic numbers throughout the event.   

After a poster contest award, the event held a presentation of honor for veterans in the community. The veterans awarded were ROTC Cadet Mckenzie Bennett, USA Sergeant Keith Mason and retired United States Navy Captain Ronald Lewis.

After service hymns were performed, Vadnais gave concluding remarks.  

The dinner began with Master of Ceremonies Billy Adsitt welcoming attendees and describing the table for one set in the corner of the room. The roundtable, set with a rose and a white tablecloth, represented the sacrifice of the missing veterans.

Adsitt then asked the audience to participate in a toast to the “fallen soldiers.”

Following the toast, there was a rendition of “God Bless America” by guest singer Jacqueline Thompson. Following, dinner was served.

Keynote speaker Dan Kidder then spoke. Kidder was raised as a ward of the state while his mother battled addiction. He joined the Marine Corp. in 1989. After being medically discharged, Kidder worked as communications director for Congressman Michael Allen Collins. He now works as managing editor at Sportsman’s News and chief instructor at On Target Defensive Training.

The SVA asked Kidder to speak to the importance of education for veterans, and although he believed he was “preaching to the choir,” Kidder spoke of the gratitude he felt to education in his life.

“You want to be successful,” Kidder said, “you need to learn.”

Following the keynote speech, SVA presented awards, beginning with the SVA Service Project Award to James Dotterer, a freshman aviation technology major from San Diego. Dotterer received this award for continually attending SVA’s service projects and other events.

Billy Adsitt, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, received the SVA Participation Award for going “above and beyond” and for attending the majority of SVA events and service projects.

Donald Long, a senior biology/zoology major, received the SVA Volunteer Award for offering to tutor other veterans in biology for free.

Valeena Wood received the Most Supportive Staff Award. Wood received this award as a Transfer Articulation Specialist, ensuring that veterans’ credits have been successfully transferred over.

Hayden Coombs received the Most Supportive Educator Award. Coombs is a lecturer of communication and the operations manager of the University Journal.

Rhiannon Pitchford then presented the Pitchford Scholarship, a scholarship dedicated in the memory of her husband, who was a veteran and a police officer. Two recipients received the scholarship: Adam Mikesell, a sophomore strategic communication major, and Adsitt.

The event concluded with a quilt presentation by Georgia Smith to Trinity Mathews. The quilt supports the Girls’ State, a program that sends young girls to learn about patriotism at all levels of government.

Adsitt then concluded the remarks. For more information on the SVA or the Veteran’s Resource, visit them here or here.

Story By
Samantha Burfiend & Dewey Leavitt &

Photos By
Mitchell Quartz