Nov. 11: Not Just Another Day Off

by Rose BrennanA&E Editor

I am nothing short of proud of my family’s history of service to this country.  Both of my grandfathers served in the U.S. Armed Forces: one in the Marines and one in the Army.  The latter even saw combat in the Korean War.  The military is a part of my family’s history, and it is a part I wish to honor.

Though both of my grandfathers are now deceased, Veterans Day nevertheless remains an important day both to me personally and to my family.  On Nov. 11, we honor the courage and sacrifice those two men exhibited during their service.  Everyone on Manhattan College’s campus should be afforded that same right.  Unfortunately, this is not possible, as Manhattan College does not formally celebrate Veterans Day.

MC is not an institution to grant an arbitrary day off.  But Veterans Day is anything but arbitrary, especially at a college with a significant population of student veterans.  The fact that Veterans Day is not a day off at Manhattan College is an insult to everyone who either has served or has a loved one who served in the military.

This is not the first time the college has claimed to stand with a certain division of the student population while their actions speak otherwise.  The college lauded the students who participated in the first Climate Strike in October, going so far as to post photos of the students on their official Instagram account, but, unlike the New York City public schools, did not give students an excused absence to attend the protest.  They also claim to support political activism, yet Election Day is not a day off, meaning non-local students have to choose between missing classes or performing their civic duty.  The college also boasts of having a National Championship-winning dance team, and yet refuses to both hang the team’s national championship banner in Draddy and to display the trophy alongside the other athletic accolades.  Now, the veterans are receiving the same treatment, and while the mistreatment of each of those groups is unacceptable on their own, because of my personal connection to the military, I cannot remain silent.

This is not to say that Manhattan College does not provide services to their student veterans.  The college’s website states, “Manhattan College has a long-standing commitment to helping educate veterans, and ensuring their professional success after graduation. As a partner in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon program, we assist veterans in their transition from military to academic and civilian life, and provide them with the personal and professional skill set to enjoy illustrious careers.”

This is true in many ways.  There are a number of support programs in place, and the establishment of the Veterans Success Center is evidence of the college’s continued dedication to the student veteran population.  The valedictorian of the class of 2018 was even a veteran.  And yet, the college seems to have missed the mark by not making Veterans Day a holiday on campus.

There are likely a number of people who do not observe Veterans Day in the way that I do, which is well within their rights.  However, for me and for people who have either served or have family who served, it is a very important day for us to recognize, and the fact that it is not recognized is very upsetting.

Though I can no longer thank either of my grandfathers for their service to this country personally, Veterans Day remains a day where I can honor those across America who have shared that experience.  Some of them are right here at MC, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one them deeply for their courage and for their service.

MC’s veteran population, especially the student veteran population, deserves to have a day where they are especially honored and thanked for their service.  Instead, Nov. 11 is treated like any other run-of-the-mill day at MC.  But it isn’t, and we shouldn’t act like it.

Our veterans and our loved ones who have served deserve better.  And if MC can give Christopher Columbus a day off, it can sure have that same decency for its veterans.