Assumption Honors Sacrifices, Service of Veterans

Nov. 8, 2019
Office of Communications
Vets Day 2019

Assumption's Veterans Day Observance 

As a demonstration of Assumption’s commitment to and recognition of Veterans and in honor of Veterans Day and the sacrifices made by those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, the College hosted its third annual remembrance ceremony on Nov. 7. 

“While November 11 is the day that has been set aside for commemoration of American Veterans of all wars, and this is the month when typically the focus is on the service that our men and women have given to this country,  throughout the entire year we need to keep in mind the sacrifices that these servicemen and women have made and continue to make for our country and the sacrifices that their families also make in allowing them to serve this nation,” said President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D.  “It takes courage for a soldier to risk life and limb for his or her country. The least we civilians can do is to honor these heroes. That is the basis of this Veterans Day celebration. To venerate these great men and women with words of appreciation. The edifice of our society stands on the martyrdom of these selfless souls. They remind the younger generation and all of us of their duty toward their country and inspire them to uphold the tradition of liberty and equality.”

Recognizing and Honoring Veterans of the Assumption Community

President Cesareo recognized the many Assumption alumni, students, staff and faculty who have served their country, many who were present for the ceremony, including State Representative Harold P. Naughton, Jr., ’82, who also serves as a Major in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, who served as the event’s keynote speaker.  

The attacks of September 11, 2001 motivated Rep. Naughton to join the Army Reserve.

“I went home that night, I looked in on my sleeping children … and realized that I had a great, beautiful family, home, legal career, political career,” he said. “These were treasures that we protected, and I quickly also realized that the protection for this country and the wars we fight for this country should not just be left to the young and the poor and the childless. So I began the process of joining the United States Army.”

 

By the time Rep. Naughton got to basic training, he was 43 years old, the oldest in his course by 17 years. He served in the Army Reserves for 14 years, rising to the rank of Major and enduring deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia, before transferring to the Massachusetts Army National Guard in 2017. 

Rep. Naughton, who was called home from overseas when his father became ill and then passed away in 2006, urged Veterans in attendance to share their stories of war—something he and his father never had the chance to do. “We never had that conversation,” he said. “To those of you who have served, have those conversations. Because how will the kids know what you sacrificed to give opportunities to them. Those stories need to be told so they can be emulated and respected and so we have a shared sense of sacrifice and common purpose that is exemplified by this institution.”

Commemorating Service of Assumption Veterans

For the third consecutive year, the College presented “Challenge Coins” to Veterans in attendance at the Veterans Day ceremony. Such coins are often distributed in military circles to commemorate and event or honor an individual for exceptional service.

The remembrance ceremony was accented by the Presentation of the Colors by the Burncoat High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and a performance of the National Anthem by VOCE, Assumption College’s select a cappella chorus. Father Richard Lamoureux ’64, A.A., Ph.D., vice president for mission, provided a benediction to conclude the formal ceremony.

Welcoming Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Wentzell 

Later that day, Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Wentzell, director of operations for United States Cyber Command’s Joint Mission Operations Center, shared his thoughts on the importance of a liberal arts education in preparation for a career in the military. 

“I think at the end of the day, the thing that our country requires most of our military leaders is to be able to think and think in a situation that is really difficult that you can’t prepare for - a liberal arts education does that."

 

Lt. Col. Wentzell added that his liberal arts education has helped him effectively communicate with his colleagues.  “The hardest thing I’ve had to do is to communicate to people that I’ve led and to people that I report to that there’s an important mission, to gain their approval for executing that mission, and convincing the people that trust me to lead them.”

Lt. Col. Wentzell, a Paxton native, is an intelligence officer who has been deployed multiple times to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq with both Marine and Special Operations Forces, and cyberspace operations officer currently assigned to Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. Here, he established the United States Marine Corps Cyberspace National Mission Team. 

Both Col. Wentzell and Rep. Naughton serve on Assumption’s Cybersecurity Advisory Council, which was created when the College added the new cybersecurity program in 2018.  

“I think the opportunity for Assumption to provide leadership in the protection of the nation and our commonwealth’s infrastructure is incredibly important,” said Rep. Naughton. 

Assumption Supporting Veterans

Earlier this year, Assumption College received the designation of a 2019-20 Military Friendly® School, which recognizes the country’s best institutions for Veterans. In recent years, the College has added a number of efforts to help Veterans obtain an Assumption education. Assumption offers academic counseling and support, a Veteran mentoring program, and post-graduate employment assistance, as well as a several other programs. The Veterans Success Committee ensures student Veterans have a voice on campus.

In May, the Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies began offering a post-bachelor's degree certificate program and a certificate of advanced graduate study, both of which train students to provide support to service members, Veterans, and their families. During last year’s remembrance ceremony, the College officially opened the new Veterans Lounge on campus, a dedicated space for Veterans to convene and support each other.