CLA Celebrates Veterans Day as the U.S.’s Longest War Turns 18
By: Nick Santangelo
Until 1954, Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day, marking the moment when major WW I hostilities ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. But this year, Veterans Day also marks 18 years since 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror.
“That's the longest war, by far, that America has ever fought in,” says United States Air Force Colonel Cory Hollon. “It's important now to recognize the sacrifice of those people who have spent a lot of time overseas fighting our nation's wars.”
To Hollon, Veterans Day is all about history and remembering those who came before, giving the entire country a chance to reflect on their sacrifices. As both an active service member and a history PhD student, that’s something Hollon knows a bit about.
He decided to pursue his PhD at Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) because of its reputation for having a great faculty that he says has done some really cool work with military history, specifically in regards to the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and World War II. Hollon isn’t alone in recognizing Temple as a school with a pronounced military history reputation, either.
Retired United States Army Colonel Paul Cook is also pursuing a history PhD here at CLA. Cook chose Temple for similar reasons as Hollon, but one professor, in particular, inspired him to come here. That would be the late Russell Weigley, who helped found CLA’s Center for Force and Diplomacy. In Cook’s telling, Dr. Weigley was “probably the finest military historian in the United States,” and Cook had been aware of the professor and his work at Temple since he was a Lieutenant.
Now a retiree, Cook is pursuing his PhD not to start a second career, but purely because he enjoys studying military history. And while not every American might study that history as closely as Cook and Hollon are at Temple, Cook hopes everyone will take some time to reflect on it today.
“Veterans Day is a chance to reflect back on our history and the role veterans have played in shaping that history,” he says. “There is no country without veterans. Veterans have been involved both in the uniformed or post-service capacity at every event that this country's achieved. So I don't see any harm in taking a day a year to think back on that.”
Like Hollon, Cook also reflects on the significance of 9/11 turning 18 years old in 2019.
“Sociologists will tell you a generation is 18 years,” explains Cook. “So, it's been a generation since the current conflict started. It's a conflict that's won by less than 1 percent of the population. Only about 1 percent serve, only about four-tenths of 1 percent serve in the Army, which is the service that does all the heavy lifting.”
Here at Temple, Cook has found the support for veterans to be outstanding, saying that the university “pulls out all the stops for veterans.” That’s in stark contrast to a West Coast school where Cook got his undergrad degree which he says didn’t know how to process his GI Bill. He also spent time on various other schools’ campuses doing recruiting work while he was in active duty.
“I never had a sense that other schools seem to regard their veteran population in the same way Temple does,” says Cook.
Hollon agrees, pointing to Temple’s Military and Veterans Service Center as a prime example of how the university goes above and beyond.
“They have a variety of events and a variety of services that they offer to veterans and active-duty military, to try and make the transition back into the civilian world as easy as possible,” explains Hollon. “So, I think Temple and CLA are doing a great job.”
Temple University and the College of Liberal Arts wish all veterans a Happy Veterans Day.