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Princeton honors ‘the few, carrying the many’ on Veterans Day

Princeton University ROTC cadets and midshipmen take their Oath of Office on the university chapel front steps on Nov. 11.

Princeton joined communities across the nation on Veterans Day to honor their veterans service and sacrifice in protecting the United States.

On the campus of Princeton University, inside the university’s chapel a Veterans Day Service was held by the university and the Spirit of Princeton on Nov. 11.

“Veterans Day is an opportunity to pause and think of those who served in the military or in other forms of national service. Taking a moment to think about how they view the country and your relationship to it,” said Retired Lt. Col. Spencer Reynolds of the National Security Innovation Network at Princeton University.

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day after the end of World War I. In the 1950s, Armistice Day would be changed to Veterans Day.

The day honors all veterans of every war both living and dead and is celebrated across the country annually on Nov. 11.

“Events like today it is important that we do these things in public together. It is our opportunity to get together and realize there are many things that we share and can come together around,” Reynolds said.

There are 16.5 million veterans in the United States, according to U.S. Census Report in 2021.

“A common trait with veterans and those currently serving, I think it is an attention to the idea that our lives are intertwined, that we are all so interdependent, and that we all have some obligation to contribute, as we are able and as we are called, to help our joint lives together,” he said.

Reynolds added that Veterans Day is just one expression of how that can be.

The Veterans Day service featured the presentation of the colors by the cadets and midshipmen of the university’s ROTC (Reserve Officer’s Training Corps) programs, and remarks from Princeton Mayor Mark Freda and Rev. Deborah Blanks, who is the pastor of Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church.

A musical vocal performance from Dr. Mary Rorro and a singing rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Kenneth Grayson were also part of the ceremony.

“With 1 percent of the population serving in the military, it is always the few carrying the many and I think all of us want to begin to share the load,” said Blanks, a former U.S. Navy chaplain and current member of American Legion Post 218. “I remember the day vividly as I stood before a navy officer, who administered the oath to all who serve in our military.”

Blanks recited the oath of office given to officers.

“I raised my right hand and repeated these words, I, Deborah Blanks, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

She further said, “We are inextricably bonded to those who have given their service and sacrifice that came before us and made a commitment to work for and protect the freedoms of country that we enjoy.”

Following the Veterans Day Service, Princeton University ROTC cadets and midshipmen took the Oath of Office on the Chapel’s front steps as family and members of the public looked on.

“Whether we raise our right hand and don the uniform, all of us are called to duty and service to protect this experiment and democracy,” Blanks said.

Veterans Day Service inside Princeton University Chapel on Nov. 11.
Princeton University ROTC cadets and midshipmen following the presentation of the colors.
Rev. Deborah Blanks (center), pastor of Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church, delivers her remarks on Veterans Day.
Retired Lt. Col. Spencer Reynolds (center) during Veterans Day Service on Princeton University's campus.
Dr. Mary Rorro (center) vocal performance of Meet the Moment.
Lt. Col. David Gunther (center) before the Princeton University ROTC cadets and midshipmen take their Oath of Office on Nov. 11.
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