UWF salutes veterans
It was standing room only as UWF faculty, staff and students paused Wednesday to honor and thank veterans of the U.S. Armed Services. A special presentation in recognition of Veterans Day took place in the UWF Commons Auditorium featuring a panel of six servicemen and women, some retired and some still active duty.
“We salute them for their patriotism, their love of country and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” said UWF President Judith A. Bense. “We are the beneficiaries of their bravery and are fortunate to live our lives in a free America. On this day of remembrance, we say thank you.”
Panelists included U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant John Bettencourt, Army Lt. Col. Edward Boegle, Coast Guard Mail Specialist First Class Pat (Conklin) Gilbert , Mr. Michael Baxley, Marine Colonel Wayne Forbush (Ret.) and Navy Postal Clerk First Class Dorothy Parker .
The panel answered a variety of questions, from discussing how military service has changed their lives to the more difficult to answer, such as their thoughts on protests at military funerals.
“We are all willing the stand up, fight and sacrifice our lives so that the right to free speech endures, but I can’t imagine a worse place to exercise that right than at a military funeral,” said Bettencourt.
All panelists shared a love for the military and an appreciation for the opportunities they were afforded by serving in a branch of the armed services.
“I shall be eternally grateful to the U.S. Navy for allowing me to have my education and see so many things I’d never have seen, had I not joined,” said Parker.
Marine Colonel Wayne Forbush (Ret.) encouraged servicemen and women, as well as students considering enlisting, to “enjoy every minute you can, because service has so much to offer: the people you will meet, the places you go and the exposure to so many different experiences. If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose the same life.”
By Kelly Russ, University Communications