Student Sentiments on Veterans Day


Bridgewater College

The American flag that overlooks the football field on Bridgewater campus. Bridgewater posted the photo last Memorial Day to honor the nation’s fallen heroes.

Ortez Marshman, Staff writer

On Friday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day took place in the United States. Bridgewater College students with veteran family members reflected on the history of the national holiday, and what this day means to them.

For many students with military families, their childhoods were impacted by the sacrifices of their parents or other family members.

“As a child growing up, my family was a military family, from my great-grandfather down to my father,” said sophomore Garret Mclain. “Having a military background made my childhood a little different, being as I always didn’t see my dad. My dad loved his family as much as he loved serving his country, and had tremendous pride whenever I saw him with his uniform on.”

Veterans Day became an official national holiday in the United States in 1938. In 1954, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor those who have served in wars on behalf of the United States military.

Ceremonies are held each year at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and floral tributes are placed on the graves of service men and women. There are also a variety of memorials spanning throughout the country.

For some students, the military is ingrained in their family for generations. Some family members are inspired to serve in the military to continue the legacy of their relatives.

“My grandfather’s great-grandfather served in the military for 20 years and retired with a lot of benefits that helped him set up the next generation with a house and great stability. This was possible through all his hard work and sacrifice for all those years,” said sophomore Jack Coburn. “My father was motivated by hearing stories from him and decided to join the military.”

Some Bridgewater students with military parents are positively impacted by the military through the G.I. Bill, which provides a range of benefits for the veteran, including paid tuition and fees.

“[My father] did a program called the G.I. bill which allows for all education expenses to be paid for,” said Coburn. “In return, the military asks for four years of active service and four years of off duty.”

This year, Bridgewater College shared an alumni spotlight that included a link to the story of Colonel Jennifer Rothgeb Martin, a veteran alumni who graduated from Bridgewater in 1997. 

Rothgeb Martin’s dedication to service runs in her family, as both grandfathers served in World War II. Her father was drafted in the Vietnam War and served in Germany, while numerous cousins were in the marines.

As a deputy chief of staff personnel, Martin oversees 60 soldiers and is responsible for 7,200 soldiers’ personnel actions.

In the alumni spotlight, Rothbeg Martin explained that the mentorship and support she had from Bridgewater College inspires her today, as she strives to do the same for the soldiers on her staff.

“Everyone at Bridgewater college was so helpful to me, from staff to professors. Professors were very personable, not just teaching, but mentoring,” said Rothgeb Martin.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, women make up just 16% of the military in the United States. Rothgeb Martin is one of these women.

“Women can make it to the top through education, physical fitness and hard work,” said Rothgeb Martin.

Other United States military holidays include Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, V-E Day and Military Appreciation Month, all taking place in May of each year.