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Price of freedom invoked at Veterans Day ceremony

Published on November 11, 2022

Price of freedom invoked at Veterans Day ceremony

Eastern hosts Command Sergeant Major John S. Carragher

Retired Command Sergeant Major John S. Carragher gives his keynote address at Eastern's Veterans Day ceremony.

Morgan Bolduk '23, an Army National Guard specialist, stands before local ROTC cadets during the Presentation of Colors.

Eastern Concert Chorale, led by music Professor David Belles

The price of freedom and gratitude toward veterans resounded at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11 at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“Our veterans served because they know that freedom is not free,” said the keynote speaker, retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) John S. Carragher. “It can only be paid in blood, in limbs, in sacrifice,” he said. “Most of us have never had to cash that check.”

He was inspired by the World War I service of his great uncle, who served in the trenches in France, survived a mustard gas attack, and returned home to start a family and go to work. His uncle was humble and rarely spoke of his service, Carragher said.

Veterans did not go to war for glory or fame, because “there is nothing glorious about war,” he added. He quoted Revolutionary War-era writer Thomas Paine: “I prefer peace, but if trouble must come, let it come in my time so my children may live in peace.”

Veterans continue to serve after war “because they are Americans, dedicated to making the world just a little bit better every day,” he said. He urged the audience to continue that example of leadership.

Carragher, who described himself as a “soldier for life,” enlisted in the Connecticut National Guard in 1982 in the 143d Military Police Company as a military police soldier. He served in leadership and staff positions before retiring in 2021. He is manager of the Office of Advocacy and Assistance for the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez, recalling her family’s immigrant background, said that love of this country “motivated my grandfather to fight in World War I, my father to fight in World War II, and my brother in Vietnam.”

John S. Carragher

ROTC cadets

Elsa Núñez

Father Larry LaPointe

We honor veterans because they fought to keep us safe and secure, she said. "We honor them with gratitude, admiration and respect."

Núñez noted that Eastern was cited in the latest U.S. News and World Report higher education survey as one of the best colleges in the country for veterans, along with its Top 20 ranking among public institutions in the North quadrant of the country. Today, more than 100 active service personnel are enrolled at Eastern, a marker of diversity, she said.

Father Larry LaPointe, campus minister, called remembrance one of the most important characteristics: “We live in the moment but recognize this moment was prepared for us by those that went before us.” His father was a veteran of World War II, he said.

“We are united in gratitude. We recall their lives, their sacrifice, and our own gain,” he said.

The Veterans Day ceremony was opened by Morgan Bolduk ’23, who serves in the Army National Guard. Bolduk, a pre-nursing major, was deployed for a year in Kenya and Djibouti, returning to Eastern in January 2022 to complete her studies and play for the softball team.

ROTC cadets Yanni Tsiranides, Michael D’Andrea, Joseph Ryan, Deven Majumdar and Geoffrey Takacs were the color guard at the ceremony. The Eastern Concert Chorale, conducted by music Professor David Belles, sang the national anthem.

Written by Lucinda Weiss

Categories: Veterans