Wash U consistently brings in influential speakers and the Veteran’s Day celebration held on Friday was no exception. Speakers at the event included U.S senator from Illinois Tammy Duckworth and former VA secretary Robert A. McDonald. Besides those distinguished guests, there was also a panel of veterans who spoke to issues currently facing veterans, like unemployment.
Senator Duckworth gave a moving speech where she praised the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers who saved her life after she lost both legs and part of her arm while flying over a war zone. She then spoke of the necessity to protect veterans from deportation. Since, I wasn’t aware this was an issue currently facing veterans, I found this part of her speech enlightening.
Then, former VA secretary Robert A. McDonald spoke to student veterans about the necessity of finding a purpose in life and adapting to changing circumstances. His insights on success, having gone from the army to the private sector back into public service, was thought-provoking and useful even for a non-veteran college student such as myself. To conclude the event, the panelists spoke about the skills, such as a team-player attitude and tenacity, that veterans offer to their workplaces and to society as a whole.
The event really was an amazing opportunity to hear very intelligent, successful, people share their insights. Wash U offers so many other opportunities like it. Just last year, I had the privilege of hearing former Secretary of State Madeline Albright speak about the Middle East. This event was unique, however, because it allowed me to hear the perspective of veterans and learn about the challenges facing them in society today. I also learned just how supportive Wash U is of veterans on campus. It was a truly enlightening experience, and I expect to have many more in my years at Wash U.