Communities across the country celebrated Veterans Day yesterday, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was no exception, taking time to honor those who have served in our nation’s military, both at home and abroad.
Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 to remember the 11th day of the 11th month, when World War I officially ended. The Daily Nebraskan talked to commanders and members of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corp at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to find out what it means to be in the military and what Veterans Day means to them.
Cadet Aubrey Fangmeier, a senior elementary education major, said he originally joined the military to help pay for tuition, but has since found a passion for service and has had amazing experiences in the military.
“I have gradually put more and more of my time into the military and I could not be happier with my decision to join,” Fangmeier said in an email.
Fangmeier said he feels a great sense of pride in the uniform he wears and says Veterans Day is important because it honors men and women who have made the very selfless decision to serve the United States.
“Not only is this a very humble choice, but one that is taken very seriously in the eyes of the American people,” Fangmeier said.
Lt. Col. Mark Peer, commanding officer in Army ROTC and adjunct professor of military science, said he had always known he wanted to be in the military, but could not decide between the Air Force and the Army. Peer said he ultimately went with the Army due to scholarships and the leadership opportunities the Army had to offer.
“Although a love of country and desire to blow stuff up were my initial motivators for military service, my reasons for staying in the military have evolved over the years,” Peer said in an email. “Now I'd say it is just as much about the people and being part of a team of selfless servants serving the people of the United States as it is about blowing stuff up.”
To Peer, the military means getting to be a part of something that is bigger than himself. Peer views Veterans Day as a day to reflect on those who lost their lives and be grateful to still be here to continue serving.
“I take time to deliberately remember my friends and brothers/sisters-in-arms who gave their life, not to be sad, but to be grateful for the opportunity to know them and serve with them,” Peer said.
Both Fangmeier and Peer said Nebraska, on the state and local levels, does an excellent job when it comes to matters involving Veterans, from making military retirement a tax-exempt status to 100% tuition reimbursement, Peer said the state is “tremendously supportive.”
“It is a very uplifting feeling to know how supportive Nebraskans are of those in the military,” Fangmeier said.
Once Fangmeier graduates, he said he will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army and branch into Field Artillery in the Nebraska Army National Guard. He will also be continuing his career as an elementary educator.
“Every time I put on the uniform, I cannot help but smile at the fact that I am in the military and have a chance to be part of not only a great ROTC program, but part of a historically rich and prestigious organization as the Army,” Fangmeier said.