Wi­dener marks 100th an­niver­sary of WWI’s end

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Colin Ainsworth Spe­cial to the Times

CH­ESTER >> Wi­dener Univer­sity marked the 100th an­niver­sary of the close of the Great War by build­ing a new fea­ture around its long­stand­ing Vet­er­ans Day ob­ser­vance. This year, the cer­e­mony was held in the mid­dle of a day­long sym­po­sium cov­er­ing the ra­tio­nale, im­pact and legacy of World War I.

The cer­e­mony was moved due to in­clement weather from out­side of the cam­pus’ Old Main, which housed its pre­de­ces­sor in­sti­tu­tion Penn­syl­va­nia Mil­i­tary Col­lege, to a pre­sen­ta­tion room in the Univer­sity Cen­ter. There John H. Tilelli, Jr., re­tired United States Army four-star gen­eral, Class of 1963, pro­vided the key­note ad­dress.

“I can’t help but think that those men and women who an­swered our na­tion’s call, es­pe­cially those who serve to­day,” Tilelli said. “As I stand here be­fore you, I guar­an­tee you there are men and women liv­ing in some of the worst places in the world. These are less than 1 per­cent (of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion) … they’re less than 1 per­cent sup­port­ing the 99 per­cent who choose not to serve.”

In his clos­ing re­marks, Tilelli read from a let­ter writ­ten by a sol­dier serv­ing un­der him when he com­manded the 1st Cavalry Divi­sion dur­ing the Per­sian Gulf War. Writ­ing to his mother the day be­fore his bat­tal­ion en­tered Iraq, he told her “Mom, it’s show time … I’m very scared, but I’m con­fi­dent in my faith, equip­ment and train­ing.”

Tilelli gave the epi­logue that the day af­ter the in­va­sion the solider would posthu­mously re­ceive the Sil­ver Star.

“Vet­er­ans through­out his­tory have em­bod­ied the ideals on which Amer­ica was founded,” he said. “Self­less sac­ri­fice to oth­ers, coun­try be­fore self, men and women of char­ac­ter and courage.”

Cadets from the Wi­dener Univer­sity U.S. Army ROTC Daunt­less Bat­tal­ion were on hand to per­form a wreath lay­ing cer­e­mony. “Vet­er­ans Day means that we get to rec­og­nize an elite mem­ber of our so­ci­ety, and that is the 1 per­cent of peo­ple who serve and choose to serve our coun­try,” Com­pany Com­man­der Justin O’Brien said fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony. “It gives us (Daunt­less Bat­tal­ion) the op­por­tu­nity … to come to­gether as a com­mu­nity and honor those who served in prior years, and honor those who are go­ing to serve in the fu­ture.”

The Vet­er­ans Day cer­e­mony was joined this year by a day­long sym­po­sium fea­tur­ing Wi­dener fac­ulty and guests from the U.S. Army Her­itage and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter mark­ing the cen­ten­nial of the Ar­mistice on Nov. 11.

The sym­po­sium was or­ga­nized by a com­mit­tee of univer­sity his­tory fac­ulty, ad­min­is­tra­tion and Penn­syl­va­nia Mil­i­tary Col­lege Com­mit­tee mem­bers. “With the great work at the PMC mu­seum with its World War I ex­hibit and with the na­tional move­ment to­wards the cel­e­bra­tion of the end of WWI, we had a nat­u­ral fit and a niche for this,” said Katie Her­schede, Ed.D., univer­sity of­fice of the pres­i­dent chief of staff.

“It was a great day for Wi­dener,” said De­part­ment of His­tory Chair Rachel Batch, Ph.D. “As a his­to­rian I like to have peo­ple re­mem­ber, un­der­stand and learn new things, and I think we’re do­ing that to­day.”

The sym­po­sium fea­tured Wi­dener As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor of His­tory Richard Hop­kins, Ph.D., speak­ing on “Voilà les Améri­cains: The Ex­pe­ri­ence of the Fran­coAmer­i­can Al­liance in WWI” and univer­sity Scholar-in­Res­i­dence Sahr Con­wayLanz, Ph. D., on “Woodrow Wil­son Chooses War.”

The school wel­comed guests from the U.S. Army Her­itage and Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter, ar­ranged through the work of Tom Vossler with the cen­ter, a 1968 class­mate of Penn­syl­va­nia Mil­i­tary Col­lege Mu­seum Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ron Ro­manow­icz. Molly Bom­pane, Cu­ra­tor of Arms and Ord­nance at the Army Her­itage Mu­seum, spoke on “The Post-WWI U.S. Oc­cu­pa­tion of the Rhineland,” and Jim McNally, Cu­ra­tor of Mil­i­tary Art, on “In­spir­ing a Na­tion: The Poster Art of World War I.”

The cer­e­mony con­cluded with a re­cep­tion at the Penn­syl­va­nia Mil­i­tary Col­lege Mu­seum on cam­pus, show­cas­ing it’s World War I ex­hibit high­light­ing no­table mem­bers of the nearly 300 PMC alumni and cadets who served in com­bat or other as­pects of the war ef­fort.


Re­tired U.S. Army Gen. John H. Tilelli Jr. is joined at left by Lt. Bri­anna Cortez and cadets of the Daunt­less Bat­tal­ion fol­low­ing his ad­dress at Wi­dener Univer­sity’s Vet­er­ans Day cer­e­mony.


An in­stal­la­tion at the Penn­syl­va­nia Mil­i­tary Col­lege Mu­seum tells the sto­ries of alumni who served in World War I and re­mem­bers those who were killed in ac­tion.

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