Hundreds Gather at Rutgers–Camden for Veterans Day Moment of Silence

Gathering marks beginning of largest Veterans Day celebration in university history

Nov. 11, 2021

By Tom McLaughlin

More than 200 people from the Rutgers University–Camden community and beyond attended a Veterans Day moment of silence this morning at the Jeremy Kane Memorial, located next to the Campus Center. The gathering was a sea of red, white and blue as about 80 students from the LEAP Academy University Charter School waved American flags and chanted “USA,” and news cameras rolled, capturing the exuberance of the crowd.

Rutgers–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis opened the program by paying homage to the sacrifices of those who have served valiantly at home and abroad.

New Jersey Assemblyman Bill Spearman (D-5) and Rutgers–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis

“Some of these brave individuals have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our lives, our freedom and the American ideals that we hold dear,” said Chancellor Tillis. “Because of their courage and selfless dedication to our country, we are able to come together here this morning.”

Chancellor Tillis spoke about the memorial’s namesake, Jeremy Kane, who was a lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and a criminal justice major at Rutgers–Camden when he was killed in January 2010 by a suicide bomb attack while on patrol in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

“In tribute to Jeremy, and all those who have served — both past and present — in our U.S. military, let us bow our heads in a moment of silence,” said Chancellor Tillis.

New Jersey Assemblyman Bill Spearman (D-5) addressed the LEAP Academy students, saying that it is up to them “to follow in the footsteps of our veterans who were there today to help keep society safe.”

“It’s up to you to make sure that your children and grandchildren have the right to vote, and to make sure that our democracy lives forth,” said Spearman.

Jake Kopach, a retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran and senior Rutgers–Camden psychology major, delivers his remarks.

Jake Kopach, a retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran and senior Rutgers–Camden psychology major, delivered personal remarks on behalf of Fred Davis, director of the university’s Office of Military & Veterans Affairs.

Kopach said this Veterans Day was “bittersweet like the others that came before,” noting that it marked the first one since the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan. He said the day reminds of us of the 7,074 “brothers, sisters and friends” have been lost in the global war on terror.

“We honor our fallen every day by moving forward and doing not just the outstanding but also the simple day-to-day that they can no longer do,” he said.

Kopach said it is now up to fellow Americans to take the initiative in helping the veterans community.

“Those who have come home with the wounds that you can and cannot see are in need of our help,” he said. “Contact those you served with and even those you didn’t serve with but see struggling. Do not lose what the military has taught you about taking initiative and being there for those to your left and right.”

Other guests included a contingent of nursing faculty and students of Rutgers–Camden’s Veterans Serving Veterans program. The initiative, which is funded by a three-year, nearly $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, prepares military veterans for civilian careers as nurses who will care specifically for other veterans.

Jeremy Kane Memorial

Later that morning, Rutgers–Camden received Gov. Phil Murphy’s “We Value Our Veterans” Award — due in large part to the efforts of the university’s Office of Military & Veterans Affairs — at an 11 a.m. ceremony in Holmdel. The distinguished honor is given to academic institutions, municipalities and businesses that meet specific criteria confirming a commitment to honor the “sacrifices, patriotism and bravery” of those who have worn a military uniform.

The moment of silence marks the beginning of a weeklong Veterans Day celebration, from Thursday, Nov. 11 to Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Rutgers–Camden.

The Office of Military & Veterans Affairs will host a Veterans Service Organization (VSO) Day for veterans from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15. Veterans are invited to visit the Multi-Purpose Room, located on the main level of the Campus Center, to speak with representatives from local VSOs about the many support services and resources available in the area.

The celebration will peak on Tuesday, Nov. 16, as Rutgers–Camden hosts the annual student-veteran luncheon, honoring Rutgers–Camden students and alumni who have served in the U.S. armed forces, at noon in the Multi-Purpose Room.

Lisa Hou, adjutant general and commissioner of the State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and a current Rutgers–Camden student, will deliver the keynote address.

The weeklong celebration kicks off a yearlong series of events geared toward veterans and veterans’ issues. More details are forthcoming regarding the programming that we have in the works; check Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram for the latest updates.

Posted in: Community Outreach

Comments are closed.