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Miami, Oxford communities remember veterans who made 'ultimate sacrifice'

By Olivia Hnat and Jenn Smola
On November 12, 2012

The Miami University and Oxford communities came together Sunday and Monday to honor the nation's servicemen and women for Veterans Day.

Miami's Student Veterans Association held a ceremony Monday afternoon at the Sesquicentennial Chapel, where attendees heard from Rodney Coates, interim director of black world studies, Col. Patrick Malay, chair of naval science and student veteran Les Dershem.

Malay enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1981 and earned a Purple Heart, among other awards, for his service.

"Today it is important to remember the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice," Malay said.

Dershem reflected on the military funerals he attended as a member of the Honor Guard. He said he is often the highest senior officer at military funerals and is given the task of presenting the next of kin with the folded American flag.

"As important as it is to honor our veterans at their time of death, we should be honoring them every day," Dershem said.

Brendan Gillespie, student veteran and president of the Miami Student Veterans Association said it's important to take time to reflect on the nation's veterans and their service.

"Veterans Day is all about remembering those who have served but at the same time appreciating their experiences...what they did for our country," Gillespie said.

The Middletown, Hamilton and West Chester campuses hosted Veterans Day events last week and over the weekend as well. The city of Oxford also hosted a program with the mayor, vice mayor and guest speakers to honor veterans Sunday uptown at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

Gillespie said students should make an effort to reach out to veterans to understand what they do and what they've gone through.

"Not everyone has experience with people who have been in the military," he said. "I would urge those who have that connection to reach out and talk to that person and get an idea of what their experience was, and if not, try to find someone that you can talk get a feel for what those experiences are."

Katie Wilson, senior director of student engagement, said she urged the community to remember that they don't need to look far to find veterans here at Miami.

"One of the things that we have to remember is that there are student veterans among us," Wilson said. "There are a lot of veterans on this campus that we see every day and [it's important] that we don't just honor them on Veterans Day."

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