Lehigh hosted its 10th annual Veterans Day luncheon Monday, welcoming about 120 active, reserve and retired veterans in the Lehigh community to Lamberton Hall.
The luncheon capped a week’s worth of events that started with a flag-raising ceremony on Nov. 4 at the University Center flagpole and continued with a Leadership Seminar on Nov. 6 on “Bridging the Gap: Building Culture, Shared Responsibility and Diversity.” Panelists at the seminar held at Neville Hall included James Brennan, professor of practice in Lehigh’s College of Business; Annette Diorio, vice president for campus life at Lafayette College; CSM Rob Duane, U.S. Army, former Command Sergeant Major, West Point’s U.S. Corps of Cadets; Col. Silas Martinez, U.S. Army War College director, leader development; and Col. Kevin McAninch, U.S. Army War College strategic education director.
At the luncheon, guest speaker Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke, who began in an ROTC program and is retired from the U.S. Air Force, expressed concern about whether today’s younger generation understands the military’s role in foreign policy and the overall affairs of the nation.
However, he said, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a respected think tank, found in a study that millennials generally trust the military, view military leadership more favorably than political leadership, have a high opinion of veterans’ work ethic, and see the military as providing opportunities for minorities and the poor. “So I think there’s an opening there for increasing awareness and exposure as necessary,” he said.
Clarke also addressed members of the Steel Battalion, Lehigh’s ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps). “All of you are on an individual journey,” he said, even though members are in the same organization. Living each day as well as they can, he told them, will key them up for great success now and in the future.
The year 2019 marks the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of ROTC at Lehigh. The program, one of the first in the country, began in September 1919 under the direction of President Henry Drinker, who supported the notion of military instruction even before the National Defense Act of 1916 established ROTC. The university initially required all physically qualified students to complete the basic ROTC course to graduate. The program became voluntary in 1961.
Recently, the Steel Battalion’s Ranger Challenge Team won the Northeast regional military skills competition among 46 programs, said Major John Abella, professor of military science at Lehigh. The team will go on to compete at the international Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at West Point in April.