Veterans Day ceremony honors local vets

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Philippe Létrilliart (right), the Consul General for the French Consulate, awards the insignias of “Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” to nine U.S. veterans who fought alongside France during World War II in honor of Veteran's Day Wednesday morning on the Rock.

Philippe Létrilliart (right), the Consul General for the French Consulate, awards the insignias of “Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur” to nine U.S. veterans who fought alongside France during World War II in honor of Veterans Day Wednesday morning on the Rock.

Both old and new members of the United States military were united on Veterans Day, as five United States Army recruits were sworn into service at the University of Miami on Wednesday.

The new recruits were joined by high-ranking military officials, veterans and some active military members that included UM students. Five recruits were sworn in by the army and 10 U.S. military veterans were honored by the Consulate General of France in Miami.

Consul General Philippe Létrilliart awarded the U.S. military veterans with the French Legion of Honor. Created to honor exceptional service, the Legion of Honor is France’s highest military distinction. France decided to present this honor, known as the rank of Chevalier or Knight of the Legion of Honor, to all U.S. veterans who fought on French soil during World War II.

“It is, for me today, a great time to remember that the United States came to France to help France and Europe, to overcome the war itself and to end the war in 1918 and also to help France and Europe to recover,” Létrilliart said.

Robert Cancio, member of the military and current student at UM, wrote a thesis titled, “The Pain of Combat for Mexican-American Veterans: A Cohort Analysis of Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans.” He spoke of the brotherhood that comes with being a veteran and a member of the U.S. Army.

“It’s a brotherhood that transcends nationality, a brotherhood that transcends ideology, a brotherhood that transcends sex, gender, race, ethnicity, class and age. [A] transcendent brotherhood linked by altruistic servitude,” Cancio said.

The tribute also featured a number of guest speakers who are veterans or active members of the U.S. Army. Each spoke of what it means to be a veteran to them personally.

“So we can remember that no generation of Americans has been spared the burden of paying liberty’s price,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael T. Plehn, chief of staff of the U.S. Southern Command in Doral. “So we can remember that every generation has shouldered that load with determination and success.”

Army Lt. Col. Harold Miller officiated the swearing-in ceremony for new recruits and spoke of their long journey ahead.

“They’ve made the initial cut,” Lt. Col. Miller said.

Col. Alice Kerr, executive director of Project Management at UM Information Technology, spoke of the post-draft era of the U.S. Army and the power to choose to join it. According to Kerr, roughly 1 percent of the population volunteers for the army. She said that her decision to volunteer for the U.S. Army was the best choice she had ever made, and urged everyone to find the time to volunteer for any cause they find interesting and care about.

“Volunteer your time for a worthy cause,” Kerr said.

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