Armed forces members, current and retired, salute as the American Flag begins its ascent up the flag pole at Clinton Community College.
Clinton Community College hosted a Veterans Day flag lowering ceremony Monday, honoring especially 12 World War II veterans who have gone on Honor Flights this past summer.
The ceremony this year featured a flag raising ceremony, instead of the customary flag lowering ceremony. Keynote speaker at the event was North Country Honor Flight founder and Director Danny Kaefitz. He spoke about the mission of Honor Flight, and the intense time pressure they are under to achieve that mission: to bring all remaining World War II veterans to their memorial in Washington D.C.
“Of the 16.5 million Americans who served in World War II, less than a million are left, and we’re loosing these heros at a rate of 800 per day,” he said.
In the North Country there are some 500 World War II veterans.
“We are in a race against time to find these heros and offer them this tribute as a sign of the respect they deserve from a grateful nation.”
The ceremony then turned to the raising of the flag, followed by a lone bugler playing the mournful sound of Taps.
Clinton Community has a very active Veteran’s Club on campus, with 105 military or military affiliated students attending classes. Veteran’s Club president Jeremy Peryer, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, emceed the flag raising ceremony.
The Veteran’s Club helps military students transitioning into college life, often times coming directly from active duty.
“I call it the triple whammy of transition,” said Tracy Guynup, Assistant Registrar and Veteran’s Affairs Coordinator. “They are often transitioning from military to civilian life, to family life, and also to college life.”
The transition to college life can be especially tricky, says Guynup, especially coming from a military culture which is very regimented and most decisions are made for you, to a college culture where very few decisions are made for you.
The Veteran’s Club runs several events for veterans throughout the year, and offers veterans a network of social support on campus. They also administer a Veteran’s Assistance Fund, making emergency loans available to veterans who might find themselves coming up short in the middle of a semester. Very often, Guynup says, veterans have to wait for GI Bill funding to come through, leaving them short of funding for things like books and supplies.
“I want those veterans to come in that door feeling like they belong. They really want to learn, they’re hard workers and they throw themselves into it body and soul,” Guynup said.
Guynup wears the same hat at Plattsburgh State, where he is Student Veteran Support Coordinator. Plattsburgh State has 223 military affiliated students, and was just ranked in the top 30 “Veteran Friendly” colleges in the country.