Andover students and faculty assembled on Wednesday afternoon to recognize and honor veterans in observance of Veterans Day.
Flag Flash Mob
On Wednesday afternoon, members of the Andover community gathered by the Vista Walk to carry a 30 by 50 foot United States flag to the Elson Courtyard. Once there, participants of the flash mob cheered the names of Andover veterans and snapped the flag in their honor.
“It was really important for me to be out there… We have to recognize that these people have given so much for our country. It’s important to understand that and let them know that we are grateful for them,” said Sam Tobin ’18.
Andover in the Military Dinner
Andover students, faculty and alumni gathered during a dinner that night organized by the Andover and the Military group in celebration of Veterans Day to hear this year’s keynote speaker, Steve Abbot ’62, a retired four-star admiral in United States Navy.
Abbot arrived at Andover in 1960 as an Upper and graduated in 1962. He proceeded to attend the United States Naval Academy and serve in the Navy from 1966 to 2000. In addition, he has worked with many organizations including the Department of Homeland Security and the Navy Marine Corporation Relief Society (NMCRS).
In his speech to the Andover community, Abbot reflected on the impact that Andover has had on his life.
“Academically, [Andover] was such a good preparation for the rest of my life. It was the place where I learned how to read and write. I was made to learn how to absorb a whole lot of material quickly and to answer questions the way they were asked,” said Abbot in an interview with The Phillipian.
One course that Abbot found particularly useful was the United States history class he took as a Senior with Miles Malone, former Instructor in History.
“If you take a look at [United States] history, in some depth, perhaps sometimes contemporary events don’t seem so unusual when you realize that the country’s been functioning under the same, essentially, federal system. The study of it helps [me] understand contemporary events,” said Abbot.
Abbot also touched upon the meaning of two of Andover’s mottos,“finis origine pendet” and Non Sibi.
“[Finis origine pendet] basically says to me that the end depends on the beginning, and what I think that means is that if you had the good fortune to be a student at Andover, you’re going to have the opportunity for the good start that will determine the good ending,” said Abbot.
Speaking to the Andover community, Abbot expressed his opinion on how the nation reaches out to veterans in need outside of Veteran’s Day.
“You might ask, ‘How might the country be doing for veterans for the other 364 days of the year?’ And actually, I think that the country is doing better,” said Abbot. “[For veterans] there are scars that still exist. But I see an enormous outpouring for veterans in the country. There are major efforts in many places [to] find employment for veterans and mentor them to achieve the skills that they need to enter the workforce.”
Despite the progress the United States has made as a whole, however, Abbot still believes that there is a lot more work to be done.
“There are statistics that are less encouraging. For instance, the suicide rate among veterans is higher than… the national average,” said Abbot.
Abbot also emphasized his work in the Navy Marine Corporation Relief Society (NMCRS). The NMCRS provides nurses who make home visits to wounded and injured veterans.
“I think, as many of you know, some of the problems veterans experience after combat are latent… We follow these wounded marines and sailors until they tell us that they don’t need us anymore,” said Abbot.
Every year since 2009, the Andover community and the Andover in the Military Committee has held a Veteran’s Day dinner to remember the veterans that served the country and to stimulate discussions about the military’s history and mission as well as their activities.
“We all learned about Non Sibi when we were at this school. And, being part of our bloodline, we graduated and moved [on] to other schools and other pursuits, but that Non Sibi spirit remained with us… the military service that most of us went into is the definition of Non Sibi on a daily basis,” said Charles Dean ’79, the Chair of Andover and the Military, in an interview with The Phillipian.
Other speakers for the event included Laurie Coffey ’95 and Jim Connelly ’82.
In the spirit of commemorating veterans, Andover also plans to memorialize the 700 Andover alumni who fought in the Civil War.
“The timing is right for us to figure this out… We had begun a conversation this spring [and] we look forward to engaging you all students and faculty in a conversation about how best to do that,” said Head of School John Palfrey during the Veterans Day dinner.
Next Monday, there will be a recognition ceremony on campus for Tom Hudner ’43, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the Korean War.
During dinner, 1000 cupcakes were frosted in red, white and blue icing and arranged in the shape of a flag of the United States to celebrate Veterans Day. These cupcakes were displayed in Paresky Commons and were made available to the Andover community.
“Hall of Names”
Names of faculty and staff who are veterans were displayed on the LED screen in Paresky Commons as a display of gratitude. There are 20 names in all.
Card Writing Extravaganza
During dinner, students and faculty were encouraged to send a quick message to Alexandra Bell ’13 and Taylor Perkins ’12, two Andover alumni currently enrolled atin military academies.
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