Lawrenceville began its Veterans Day celebrations early this year, first welcoming Col. Jen Steele ’91 to address students at all-School meeting before talking with a group of student leaders, and attending the Language of Leadership class. Today, the School held a ceremony at the Lawrenceville flagpole to honor current employees who have served in the U.S. military.
School President Bryce Langdon ’24 feels these celebrations are important. “As we go about our daily lives, it's easy to forget the greatest privilege we all enjoy–freedom. It is thanks to those who have bravely put themselves on the line for our country that we get to enjoy the privilege that we often take for granted. We owe more than we can imagine to veterans, and we must come together to recognize their bravery on Veterans Day,” said Langdon. “At a place like Lawrenceville, where so many of our friends, teachers, and staff have served, showing our appreciation is the least we can do. Simply put, without them, life might look very different."
In her address to the entire study body, Steele discussed the importance of service, which she defined as “doing something for someone else and expecting nothing back.” The U.S. military is unique, she said, in that “we are the only [armed forces] in the world who swear an oath to an ideal: the U.S. Constitution,” not to an individual leader. Presidential directives are followed, she said, “as long as they follow the Constitution.”
A member of the first class of girls to graduate after four years at Lawrenceville, Steele said the number of opportunities she was given at Lawrenceville made her feel a need to give back, which she does as active member of Lawrenceville’s Crescent society, Class of 1991 Reunion Committee, and the School’s veterans group, LVets. “I am proud to serve this nation and support [Lawrentians] in any way possible,” she said.
Steele, commissioned as an Aviation Officer following her graduation from the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) in 1995, holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from USMA and a master’s degree in acquisition and procurement management from Webster University. Steele’s key leadership and developmental assignments include management of the Army’s 26,000 Aviation enlisted soldiers; commander at the battalion and company levels; senior aviation operations officer to include in a special operations command; and numerous other positions as the senior manager of operations, maintenance, and logistics for combat aviation units. Steele participated in three operational deployments and one humanitarian relief operation. Her most prestigious awards include three Bronze Star Medals, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals, and a Senior Army Aviator Badge.
At today’s flagpole celebration, 14 current Lawrenceville employees were honored and thanked for their service. History and economics teacher Regan Kerney (U.S. Army veteran), Assistant Head of School/Dean of Faculty Emilie Kosoff, and mathematics teacher Benjamin Wright (U.S. Marine veteran) talked about the history and meaning of Veterans Day.
This year’s Lawrenceville veterans are:
Gary Doan, Facilities, U.S. Army
Gary Fair, Public Safety, U.S. Navy
Frank Fernandez, Registrar, U.S. Navy
Lee Garwig, Athletics, U.S. Air Force
Regan Kerney, History, U.S. Air Force
Ann Martin, Health & Wellness, U.S. Army
Arthur Moore, Public Safety, U.S. Navy
John Ottinger, Athletics, U.S. Navy
Stephen H. Rozek, Performing Arts, U.S. Air Force
Bill Schroeder, Athletics, U.S. Army
Alberto A. Torres, Facilities, U.S. Marine
Jeff Thurston, Facilities, U.S. Army
Benjamin T. Wright, Mathematics, U.S. Marine
Ted Wyckoff, Facilities, U.S. Navy
Fernandez, a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served during the first Gulf War, was pleased that Steele spoke at the all-School meeting. “Having a veteran speak is even more impactful since [veterans] all had a different function to do and can share their own experiences and the sacrifices that were made. Very few of our student body choose to join and it's good they see those who served before them,” he said.
Hearing his name read with the other Lawrenceville veterans “makes me feel very special,” Fernandez said. “I am proud of my contribution to the Navy and being part of the small portion of our population who also served.”
History and Economics teacher Regan Kerney, a U.S. Army veteran, reflected on the importance of the School’s celebration of the holiday. “I believe it is important for those who have the privilege of attending Lawrenceville to witness the selfless sacrifice of time and energy of another generation for something larger than ourselves, in the hope that this inspires them to consider national service, whether in the Peace Corps, the military or another option,” he said.
For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at email@example.com.