Ivy Tech Community College - Indianapolis hosted a Veteran’s Day program for all students, employees, and the community on Friday, Nov. 10, in the Illinois Fall Creek Center. The event featured an appearance from U.S. Senator Todd Young, R-IN, who served as the keynote speaker. 

The program started with an introduction from Jason Rodriguez, the Assistant Director of Veteran and Military Services, and the Presentation of Colors. Dr. Lizette Rivera, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, provided a land acknowledgment on behalf of the College that not only recognized the Miami, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people but also the contributions of Indigenous and Native Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces as one of the largest groups of people to serve our country. 

The program featured a Missing Man Table ceremony in remembrance and honor of service members listed as Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA).

Before Senator Young’s speech, Dr. Stacy Atkinson, Ivy Tech Indianapolis’ Chancellor and Marine Corps. veteran, provided remarks on what was not only Veteran’s Day but also the Marine Corps. birthday. 

“Today, the beautiful Marine Corps – that personally gave me everything – turns a whole 248 years old,” Dr. Atkinson started, as her fellow Marine Corps. brothers and sisters rang out with an “Oorah.”

Dr. Atkinson shared, in part:

To all veterans joining us today, I want you to know how much we appreciate your service. You've made incredible sacrifices, and your sacrifices have given us the freedom to pursue our education and dreams here at Ivy Tech – and beyond. I also want to take another moment to acknowledge our staff, faculty, and students who are veterans. You've not only served your country, but you also enrich our college community with your unique experiences and perspectives.

Ivy Tech Indianapolis is all about learning and growth. It's a place where we get to explore, discover, and make the most of our opportunities. But we wouldn't have this incredible space for learning if it was not for our veterans. On Veterans Day, we're here to reflect on the incredible sacrifices that they have made. We owe it to them to never forget the price of our freedom. Today we gather not just as a campus but as a larger community. We stand together, united by the shared values and commitments that make our country so incredible. Let's commit to making our Ivy Tech campus a place of inclusivity, respect, and support for all, especially for our veterans.

Senator Young took to the podium to share a story about Frederick Knefler. 

Knefler was a member of one of the earliest Jewish families to settle in Indianapolis and was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. Knefler served in the Union Army in the U.S. Civil War and, at the conclusion, was the highest-ranking Jewish officer to fight in the Civil War.

Read Senator Young’s full speech in recognition of Knefler here. 

“We tell this story because we don't celebrate Veterans Day in order to venerate war, instead, we celebrate this day to reflect on its horrible costs. We honor our veterans like Frederick Knefler on this holiday for the same reason we build monuments to them. Doing these things reminds us what is precious and that what is precious is fragile.”

“We can celebrate our free enterprise system and our civil society, we can pat ourselves on the back for our history and lessons learned, and battles fought, but without – to put it indelicately – without patriotic men and women, raising their hands, carrying guns to defend those values someday, this would all be for naught. So for all of you, and I speak to you directly, who have worn the uniform, for all of you who have family members who have worn the uniform, most especially, I say to you, Happy Veterans Day, you have my deepest gratitude on behalf of the people of Indiana. God bless.”

A student veteran panel wrapped up the Veteran’s Day event. The audience heard from David Kinney, James Beebe, Denise Moraga, and Manjai Zelee. Each shared their experience of being supported by the community and Ivy Tech. 

“Camp Atterbury and Ivy Tech worked seamlessly together when I was ready to return to school but was still active military,” Beebe said. “These two entities worked together to help get me to where I wanted to be, and that really showed me how much they wanted me to be here and that they cared.”

At the closing of the Veteran’s Day event, AMVETS and the Sister Solider Network shared information about their organizations and encouraged all veterans to get involved. You can learn more about AMVETS at amvets.org and Sister Soldier at sistersoldiernetwork.com. You can learn more about Ivy Tech’s VA Education Benefits and Active Military Benefits at ivytech.edu

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.