A Showing of Gratitude to Military Veterans at Duke's Ceremony

Annual ceremony honored veterans, including 2,237 employees who identify as veterans, and 770 students with military affiliations

Flags in Duke Chapel.
Friday's Veterans Day ceremony featured music and reflections by Duke leaders and community members on military service. Photo by Jared Lazarus.

“Veterans Day is always a special day,” Dillard said. “I sit back, think about my friends and reflect.”

Hosted by Duke Human Resources, the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday offered an opportunity for the Duke community to honor military service members.

Duke is home to 2,237 staff and faculty who identify as veterans, and 770 Duke students with military affiliations.

“I want to say ‘Thank you,’ to those who served in our armed forces and stood to protect our freedoms in this country,” Antwan Lofton, Vice President of Duke Human Resources, told the audience. “It is because of those brave men and women that institutions like Duke can bring people together to freely debate ideas and find new ways to solve problems.”

The ceremony featured music from the John Brown Ensemble, an invocation from Duke University Chapel Dean Luke Powery and remarks from Duke University President Vincent E. Price.

Duke Vice President for Human Resources Antwan Lofton, left, and Sanford School of Public Policy Adjunct Instructor Paul Dillon, a Vietnam veteran, right, lead the procession with Duke University President Vincent E. Price and others at the close of Friday's ceremony. Photo by Jared Lazarus.

“We will soon mark Duke University’s centennial, and it is worth remembering that our founding document clarified that Duke’s mission is to maintain a place of real leadership in all that we do,’” Price said. “This work is strengthened by the perspective, experience and dedication of our many veterans.”

In keynote remarks, Joel Miles, an Air Force veteran and owner of Durham’s Flying Bull Beer Company, shared how the Air Force helped him overcome a trauma-filled childhood and develop leadership skills and a strong sense of empathy, skills he has leaned on ever since.

Following the ceremony, Lofton and Paul Dillon, a veteran of the Vietnam War and an adjunct instructor for the Sanford School of Public Policy, led a procession to lay a wreath at the memorial for Duke alumni who gave their lives in service to their country.

A few minutes after the procession was finished, Anthony Dillard Jr. made the short walk back to Duke University Hospital to resume his workday.

“It means a lot,” Dillard said of the ceremony and gratitude on display during the ceremony. “I don’t cry, but I cry on the inside. I love the appreciation. It feels really good to be recognized and know that I served my country.”

Watch a video recording to Friday's Veterans Day ceremony below.

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