November is National Veterans and Military Families Month. To honor all who served our nation, UCF is hosting a variety of veterans events and activities throughout the month, both on campus and virtually.
“Veterans Month at UCF honors Americans of all races, creeds, ethnicities, genders, classes, and sexual orientations and their contribution to the nation during their service and afterward,” says Barbara Gannon, associate professor of history and the driving force of Veterans Month at UCF for over a decade. “I think it is particularly important to honor veterans because they remind us that Americans can do great things when they work together and set aside their differences. Veterans did this and so can we.”
Throughout the month, members of the UCF community will have the opportunity to learn veteran stories, connect with other veteran students and alumni and celebrate new veterans’ projects at the university. Below is the list of Veterans Month events coordinated by the UCF History department and the Office of Military and Veteran Student Success in partnership with units across the university and community.
Sunday, Nov. 6 – Thursday, Nov. 10: UCF Student Veterans Flag Week
The Military and Veteran Student Success Center, with the assistance of Army and Air Force ROTC, will plant over 1,400 American Flags in Memory Mall throughout the week of Nov. 7. The flags represent the number of student veterans attending UCF for the Fall 2022 Semester. Students can volunteer to help plant flags in Memory Mall throughout the week.
Wednesday, Nov. 9: Veterans Salute & Purple Heart Proclamation, Honors Veterans Wounded in Battle
At Memory Mall between 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the Veterans History Project (VHP) in collaboration with the Air Force and Army ROTC and the Military and Veteran Student Success Center will host a salute to Veterans in honor of Veterans Day.
The event will include the raising of the American flag, playing of taps and Purple Heart Proclamation with commentary about UCF’s designation as a Purple Heart University. The designation signifies the university’s recognition and honor of veterans wounded in combat while serving their country who are now pursuing higher education and careers at UCF.
Tuesday, Nov. 15: Veterans History Project Story Day – Emergency Service Veterans
The UCF Community Veterans History Project (VHP) collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida’s veterans. The histories collected by the VHP are archived and made digitally available through the UCF Libraries. The project also contributes selected veterans’ histories to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
Throughout the month of November, the VHP will host two “Story Days.” During each story day VHP team members will meet with veterans to collect, preserve and honor the stories of Florida’s Veterans. The second story day will happen via Zoom and focus on collecting stories from veterans currently working in emergency services. Students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Gannon, a veteran herself, is the principal investigator of the VHP. For over a decade, Gannon has worked with students to preserve these oral histories.
“The VHP records veteran’s stories all year, we believe every day is Veterans Day,” Gannon says.
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Florida France Soldiers Stories
The John C. Hitt Library, room 402 will host a panel discussion and workshop from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. with panelists Dr. Amelia Lyons, Elizabeth Klements, Marie Oury, Diana Dizon and Evan Murray along with UCF research librarians Mr. Richard Harrison and Mr. Rich Gause.
The Florida-France Soldier Stories project seeks to tell the stories of the Florida soldiers buried in the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries in France. The goal of the project is to honor and commemorate the brave individuals who gave their lives supporting the Allied forces, liberating France, and defeating Germany in the Second World War. The project also teaches students who participate in this research project about the history of France and Florida during World War II, the history of individual servicemen, and how to implement historical research methods in their work.
Wednesday, Nov. 30: Veteran Knights’ Roundtable – Conversation with UCF Alumni Veterans
The history department will be sponsoring a conversation between alumni veterans at 6 p.m. via Zoom. They will discuss transitioning from military personnel to student veteran, their experiences at UCF, and how a UCF education and their military experience got them to where they are now.
“We have a large student veteran population on campus,” Stoddard says. “I think that comes with being among the largest student population campuses in the country, but I don’t think that’s the only reason we have a lot of vets on campus. In my experience, and people with similar backgrounds to myself, the faculty are very helpful and considerate.”
While these events are held in recognition of Veterans Month, UCF supports its about 1,400 student veterans year-round.
Recently, the UCF Veterans Legacy Program, (VLP) a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA), received a new grant this year to help Florida schools teach students about veteran histories.
Building on work from 2017 through 2019, UCF’s new VLP grant will work with teachers at Florida K-12 schools to create veteran-focused classroom projects at a 10-day workshop held at the headquarters for the Florida National Guard, located in the historic St. Francis Barracks and the adjacent St. Augustine National Cemetery.
“We are so pleased to partner with the Florida National Guard to be able to connect younger students around the state with veterans’ stories through their local NCA cemetery,” says Associate Professor of History Amelia Lyons, principal investigator for the project.
Researchers and community partners who developed the project will celebrate and launch the new grant at an event with guests from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA).
Earlier this year, UCF earned a Silver Award on the 2022-23 Military Friendly Schools list, an organization that measures commitment, effort, and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community. UCF also offers a range of scholarships and resources available for veteran students, including the Office of Military and Veteran Student Success and UCF RESTORES, a nonprofit clinical research center and treatment clinic.
“Celebrating Veterans Month activities at UCF is another aspect of creating a culture of innovation and inclusion,” says Mike Kepner, army veteran and director of the Office of Military and Veteran Student Success.