MU honors Veterans with memorial celebrations


Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 11. Mercyhurst University certainly had a lot of ceremonies to celebrate the holiday.

To kick off the day, the ROTC students who are in the Color Guard raised the flag as part of Reveille at 7:45 a.m. Even though this is early in the morning, there was a great turnout to start the day off by honoring the Veterans.

Erie News Now was even there capturing the beautiful ceremony. Sophomore ROTC Cadet, Bethany Jentz, is a part of the Color Guard and loves being involved in it.

“I enjoy being part of Color Guard because it is another way to show my love and appreciation towards the military and my country. I like the structure and ceremonial aspect of the Color Guard,” Jentz said.

The second ceremony of the day was the Ceremony of Valor at 3:30 p.m.

“As the person who planned the Veterans Day events here at Mercyhurst, I thought all of the events were equally great! If I had to pick a favorite, though, it has to be the Celebration of Valor,” said Chris Constantine, Mercyhurst’s Veterans Services Coordinator, said. “This yearly event brings our Mercyhurst family together to honor our veterans, past and present, in a moving ceremony. I love how our Army ROTC Cadets run the ceremony and how our students within the Music Department willingly participate, too.”

To begin the Celebration of Valor, a local music group called “Music for Veterans” began playing at 3 p.m. for attendees who arrived early. To begin the ceremony, a few of the ROTC Cadets in the Color Guard did the Presentation of Colors. The ceremony consisted of President Getz giving a speech about how veterans and Veterans Day are important to Mercyhurst.

ROTC Cadet Ryan Morrissey introduced Mr. Robert Hill, who is a Purple Heart Recipient and Commander of the Erie Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Hill discussed the history of the Purple Heart award and how it all began with George Washington wanting to honor three soldiers in a different way than the other military awards in 1782.

“When I asked Mr. Hill if he would be willing to speak, he was very excited for the opportunity! His Chapter of the MOPH is not as large as it once was, and I thought maybe having him as our guest speaker would give the group some good exposure,” Constantine said. “He and his group have been meeting on a monthly basis in our Veterans Lounge here on campus. Mr. Hill was instrumental in having Mercyhurst designated a Purple Heart University in 2018 (at that time, we were the second designated Purple Heart University in PA).”

At one point, ROTC Cadets freshman, Alexander Matusiak, and sophomore Theodore Counihan explained the Fallen Soldier’s Table, also known as Missing Man Table. This tradition is meant to honor and remember those who gave their lives to protect their country and its people. To conclude the ceremony, Major Kawlinowski played “Taps” on the bagpipes and then those who attended were able to enjoy some light refreshments and some cookies.

To conclude the day, the Color Guard lowered the flag that they had flown earlier in the day in a ceremony called Retreat. This took place at exactly 4:57 p.m. and it was the final event Mercyhurst did to celebrate Veteran’s Day. Some people might have a personal connection to Veterans Day maybe through family or friends but it is always important to celebrate no matter if you know anyone who has been in combat or not.

“I really enjoy celebrating Veterans Day every year. It’s the one day each year that I try to connect with all my friends that were (or still are) in the military & thank them for their service. I also like to take a few moments to reflect on my time in the Air Force,” Constantine said.

Jentz agrees with Constantine’s view.

“Veterans Day is extremely important to celebrate because we are honoring all of the men and women who have served to protect our rights and freedoms in the United States,” Jentz said. “Anyone who serves in the military makes sacrifices of some capacity for the good of the country and everyone in it, so they deserve to be honored and celebrated.”