Each year on this day, we pay tribute to those Armed Services personnel who have served America throughout its history to protect and defend the freedoms we enjoy.
Many Alfred University community members have served in the military over the years in armed conflicts as old as the Civil War, and as current as the Middle East. For example, every male member of our student body went off to fight for the Union during the Civil War. The story is told that our then University president, William Kenyon, was even shot at when visiting our student-soldiers on the front lines.
Earlier this year, we were honored to pay tribute to an alumna, Kristin Beck, ’89, who is the first openly transgender Navy Seal, by presenting her with an amended diploma.
Kristin served our country with distinction for many years and in many different capacities, including with the elite Seal Team 6. While an undergraduate student at Alfred University, she was Chris Beck. As mentioned in a prior email, Kristin is back in the area, and has been working closely with Dillon Smith ’18, ’21 MS, Alfred University’s Military Affairs liaison, to enhance program offerings and scholarship opportunities for veterans and military personnel.
Being the son of immigrants who fled to America to escape a despotic regime in their homeland, I especially appreciate the sacrifices made by generations of American Armed Services personnel to establish and protect the freedoms that we enjoy. Over the years, I have had the privilege of visiting hallowed places like Lexington, Concord, Yorktown, Fort McHenry, Gettysburg, the Somme, Pearl Harbor, and Omaha Beach plus to get a ride with the Blue Angels when they came to Rochester a decade ago. These opportunities gave me an even greater appreciation for the courage and sacrifices of those who have served and continue to serve this great country.
And so today reminds us yet again that the debt we owe to those who served in our Armed Services will never be fully paid. Likewise, our debt to Alfred University community members who have served or are serving in America’s military continues to grow. Let us honor them today, and always.