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MITZEL: Remembering why we're thankful

November is a month associated with Thanksgiving. It is a time when we pause within our regular schedules and gather to remember that for which we are thankful.

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November is a month associated with Thanksgiving. It is a time when we pause within our regular schedules and gather to remember that for which we are thankful.

Personally, one of the items for which I am thankful is the service of the men and women in our U.S. Military. Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, U.S. Marine Corps, once stated, "It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

I am keenly aware that the freedoms we are afforded that allow for us to study and to participate in discourse have come at a great cost and I am extremely proud and humbled by those men and women who have given us this gift.

In 1941, following the attack at Pearl Harbor, Charles E. Scott, president of Dickinson State, wrote in The Slope Teacher "We are at war and shall feel the effects upon our campus. There may have to be adjustments in our program, if so, we will make them. The facilities of the college may be needed. If so, they stand ready to serve the nation's needs. College men and women may be needed. If so, they will be ready and willing to serve..."

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Indeed, the enrollment at the college on the hill did decline as students answered the call to serve. In 1943, only 53 students were enrolled in teacher preparation courses at the institution. President Scott, having recognized the potential for the campus to be utilized by the military, requested the Navy V-12 program, a supplement force of commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy, assign its training programs to Dickinson State.

In July 1943, more than 200 naval officers arrived on campus. Before the program ended in 1945, more than 450 officers lived and studied at Dickinson State. Continuing service to veterans was a priority and President Scott sought, and received, approval from the State Board of Higher Education for DSU to offer a liberal arts degree for returning veterans.

The commitment to supporting veterans, and their families, continues today. Dickinson State University offers high quality academic programs that are affordable and accessible. The programs and supports offered by DSU to veterans have resulted in DSU being recognized as a military friendly school for seven consecutive years.

I am encouraging the campus to continue exploring possibilities that will allow the university to reach out to current and former members of the armed services and support them as they pursue further education.

I can never say thank you to those who have served, and to their families, in a way that is truly enough. I am grateful and cognizant that the freedoms I enjoy today were purchased through their sacrifice.

On Friday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. members of the Dickinson community will gather in Beck Auditorium to commemorate Veteran's Day. I hope that you join me in recognizing and honoring those who have served in our armed forces.

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