It’s hard for many people in our country to imagine being in a war. Bullets, bombs, explosions, casualties: it’s hard for many people to even fathom.But for the men and women who have committed themselves to these wars to protect our country, their experiences become part of their lives forever.
And coming back from war to a world where nobody can understand or relate to what they are going through can be devastating.
“After being engaged in war, and developing relationships and adapting to such an environment, it is often quite shocking for students to come back and to sit down in a classroom,” said Communication professor and Vietnam War veteran Tom Conroy. “It seems unreal to sit in a class with people who have no idea.”
Since war has such an impact on its participants, and countries as a whole, and since Castleton State College houses several war veterans, then why, on Nov. 11, the national Veterans Day holiday, did Castleton do little to nothing to celebrate this sacred day?
While across the state there were ceremonies, parades and tributes taking place, and even though grade schools across the country shut down to dedicate the day to veterans, there was little said or done around the Castleton campus.
“What I would like to see is not to just call off classes, because that would be just giving students a day off, but to have a sort of symposium, or a discussion I should say,” said Conroy.
With so many different topics involved with war, Conroy said there could be a series of formal and informal events featuring multiple viewpoints and opinions.
“Otherwise people will self-select,” he said.
Conroy noted that three years ago Castleton hosted a symposium that featured guests conveying differing viewpoints of war that students could go and listen to.
“It was quite profound, the camaraderie that these people had despite such opposing viewpoints,” he said. “It’s too bad that something like that can’t happen every year.”
Another war Vet, and Castleton business professor Paul Albro, agrees that war vets need to be recognized at CSC.
“The worst thing that soldiers did when they came back from Vietnam was that they went underground,” said Albro. “There were a lot of veterans that I knew that had issues they needed to deal with and never did . Their lives might have been very different if they had dealt with things differently.”
Both professors noted the impact that both the politics and economics of war have on our society.
“War affects everyone,” said Conroy shaking his head. “You will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the rest of your lives.”
Although the reason school is in session on Veterans Day is unclear, the Human Resources Department at Castleton suggested that because Castleton schedules a break every five weeks, professors must work on holidays such as Veterans Day and Presidents Day to fulfill union requirements.
Since there is not a formal celebration of Veterans Day at Castleton, both Albro and Conroy offered one way that students can help recognize veterans, and to also help returning war vets deal with readjustment: listen to them.
“I think that sometimes vets feel marginalized,” said Conroy. “They need to be recognized that they’ve been a soldier, that they’ve been to war, and that they’ve had a unique experience.