“Sheridan College,” noted Dr. Paul Young, its president Tuesday during annual Veterans Day ceremonies on campus, “will always be a veterans college.”
Indeed. The college’s roots date back to post WWII when the Truman Commission in 1946 called for an establishment of a network of community colleges throughout the U.S. Sheridan College was founded two years later.
One core value in its recent campus expansion, that of the Thorne Rider Campus Center, was the veterans office in the heart of the building with a veterans-only lounge, a work center and office of its veterans affairs’ director, Lt. Col. USMC (Ret.) Brett Burtis. Dr. Young, too, is a retired veteran, an officer for 20-plus years in the Naval Reserve.
Tuesday’s ceremonies — which played out before a packed house inside the Whitney Presentation Hall, a concession to the windy, seven-degree temperatures outside — featured remarks about two wars. Dr. Young recapped briefly the U.S. involvement in WWI, noting how 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the “war to end all wars.” His remarks also touched on the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to the escalation of the Vietnam War. Local businessman and native Ron Wood was the keynote speaker. A Vietnam-era veteran who was called to duty in 1970, Wood has been the state commander of the American Legion and an advocate of veterans’ issues. Since 1999, he has served on the Wyoming Veterans Commission.
Burtis and Amy King announced the roll call of 120 names of Wyoming armed forces members who lost their lives in Vietnam, including nine from Sheridan County. Burtis also noted that since 1775, some 2.5 million Americans have lost their lives defending this country’s freedoms, from the Revolutionary War to the ongoing global war on terror.
A reception followed the ceremony and it wasn’t all that surprising, even in the bitter cold temperatures, that so many people stopped at the Veteran’s Plaza near the entrance to Sheridan College to pay their respects. This “brick pavers” recognition celebrates how “the community of Sheridan has been a hallmark of patriotism and has shown strong support for the armed services.” So noted Dr. Young in his dedicatory remarks of this plaza two years ago. The bricks have the names of veterans and those citizens who honor them. That list, as noted in Tuesday’s program, is a long one and no doubt proud.