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Vets Day – Service honored

Superiorland marks Veterans Day 2019

The Northern Michigan University ROTC Cadets prepare to post the colors during the Veterans Recognition Ceremony held on Thursday at NMU. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — “On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918, the sounds of war, which had been deafening the Earth for more than four years, fell silent. The soldiers in the trenches cautiously raised their hands and slowly climbed out of the filthy, disease-ridden holes that had been their homes for so long. They walked across no man’s land to shake the hands of the soldiers that had just so recently been their mortal enemies. Then they all went home. The Great War, the most horrific and deadly war the world had known up until that point was over.”

These words describing the moment of armistice that would eventually be marked as Veterans Day in the U.S. were spoken by Northern Michigan University student Kate Born during the Veterans Recognition Ceremony held Thursday by the NMU Student Veteran Services Office in conjunction with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

“Veterans Day has developed into a day to honor all who have served, whether living or dead, whether they had served in a war zone, or maintain a vigilant watch during peace. We gather here to honor all who have served,” said Born, a veteran herself.

At the ceremony, NMU student body President Cody Mayer was recognized with the Student Veteran of the Year Award, the NMU President’s Challenge Coin, the MVAA’s Director’s Coin and a special tribute from state lawmakers Rep. Sara Cambensy and Sen. Ed McBroom.

Mayer, a sergeant with the Michigan National Guard who has served for five years since enlisting as a junior in high school at age 17, was honored for his service to the nation, community and university during the ceremony.

From left, Cody Mayer, who was recognized with the student veteran of the year award during Veterans Recognition Ceremony held on Thursday at NMU, stands with Cindy Paavola, assistant to the university’s president and NMU’s Student Veteran Services Coordinator Michael Rutledge, as he is presented with the award. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

“We want to simply say how incredibly proud we are of all of his accomplishments,” said Cindy Paavola, assistant to the university’s president.

During the ceremony, NMU’s Student Veteran Services Coordinator Mike Rutledge outlined Mayer’s many achievements and activities, which include: volunteering during the flood of Father’s Day 2018 in the Houghton area and serving on “numerous important university committees,” such as the Internal Campaign Planning Committee, Academic Senate, Student Finance Committee and the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee.

He also serves on the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and was recently a candidate for the Marquette City Commission.

Mayer is currently a senior at NMU, majoring in public administration and minoring in economics, with plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration at NMU after he completes his bachelor’s degree. He is married to his “high school sweetheart” Ashley Mayer and they are “joyfully expecting a new addition to their family in March,” Rutledge said.

“I’m so grateful for being honored like this. It’s humbling,” Mayer said, noting that he hopes to continue “serving both in and out of uniform” to benefit his community.

From left, Cody Mayer, who was recognized with the student veteran of the year award during Veterans Recognition Ceremony held on Thursday at NMU, shakes hands with Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Zaneta Adams, who presented Mayer with the MVAA’s director’s coin in honor of his achievements. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

Zaneta Adams, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, officially recognized Mayer with the presentation of the MVAA director’s coin, which is presented to veterans who have “exemplified outstanding service in and outside of the uniform.”

“I commend you for being able to do your studies, have a family, and go to school and get good grades as well, then serve on the weekends or get called up for overseas duty. I commend you for all that you’re doing there,” Adams said. “We’re here today to make sure that we’re honoring the services and sacrifices that you and your families have made for this country. You have our deepest gratitude on this day, on Veterans Day, and every day of the year. So again, I want to thank you for your service.”

Brig. Gen. Lawrence E. Schloegl said he “couldn’t be more proud of the young soldiers that our military is putting out.”

“Thank you all for your service. Less than 1% of our population actually stands up raises your right hand and says, ‘I do, I will support and defend it,'” Schloegl said. “So you’re all part of that 1%. To all the families out there, they couldn’t do without your support.”

Vietnam-era veterans in attendance were also recognized with a national commemorative pin given by Adams on behalf of the U.S. government for their service.

“We didn’t thank you properly when you came home and we want to thank you now. You honored this country by answering the call of duty and we owe you our thanks for your service, your bravery and our freedom,” Adams said. “So on behalf of a grateful nation, we want to thank you for your service and officially welcome you home.”

Overall, organizers were glad for the opportunity to honor veterans of all generations and walks of life during the ceremony, they said.

And if you’re looking for a way to honor a veteran today, Rutledge said: “Most veterans just really appreciate when people say thank you. That’s the best thing you can do.”

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.