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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Sen. Mark Warner Speaks at ODU Veterans Day Observance

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Sen. Mark Warner joined Rear Adm. Patrick Piercey of the U.S. Navy, University President John R. Broderick and a large audience from the campus community at Old Dominion's annual Veterans Day Observance Nov. 10.

Under dazzling sunshine on Kaufman Mall, Warner said he couldn't imagine spending Veterans Day in a more appropriate place than military-centric Hampton Roads and military-friendly Old Dominion.

Warner noted that his 91-year-old father was a U.S. Marine who fought in Iwo Jima during the Second World War. "I'm here to say thank you to all veterans, for what they do for all of us."

Warner noted that the just-ended election had commanded the nation's attention, and brought out negative reactions from both sides. He said despite anger from voters directed at many institutions - from the media, to government, to Wall Street - the military is one institution that is still universally respected in the United States.

"We have a lot of lessons we can learn from our military. Instead of the partisan bickering and food fights that pass for policy, our military veterans set aside personal politics and gets things done," he said.

Piercey, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, told the audience that a recent visit to the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor reminded him of the past for America's veterans, and the future.

This year's Dec. 7 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is the 75th, "and those few survivors of Pearl Harbor, many in wheelchairs but still with that twinkle in their eye, will gather and remember those days," Piercey said.

"It's a rather remarkable story" to see the many positive changes to the world these retired soldiers have seen, or brought about, in their lifetimes, Piercey said.

He challenged service members in the audience at the observance: "Seventy-five years from now, are you also going to be able to say, 'I played my part to help' as the nation and the world goes through its challenges?"

President Broderick thanked Rear Adm. Piercey and Sen. Warner for attending the event, and gave thanks to the University's large, military affiliated population.

"Old Dominion prides itself on serving as a home for our veterans," he said. "The ODU student body doubled in size thanks to veterans after the Second World War, and the University has continued its commitment to veterans ever since."

With thriving Army and Naval ROTC units, a Military Connection Center, a Veterans Business Outreach Center and countless collaborative efforts with local and regional military installations, ODU is proud of its significant military links. For five straight years, the national publication Military Times has included Old Dominion in the top 30 four-year institutions that it labels "Best for Vets."

As part of the Veterans Day Observance, Chuck Keating, professor of engineering management and a military veteran, was presented with a flag, an annual tradition bestowed on one member of the campus community each year.

At the observance, travel-sized toiletries were collected to be donated to Veterans Homefront, a local nonprofit working to end homelessness among veterans. There was also a letter-writing station to send cards to a servicemember deployed around the world during the holiday season.

Warner, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 and re-elected in 2014. He serves on the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget and Intelligence committees and is a frequent visitor to Old Dominion.

During his time in the Senate, Warner has won praise as a bipartisan leader who has worked with Republicans and Democrats on efforts to increase government performance and accountability and promote private-sector innovation and job creation.

Warner has advocated for military service members and veterans and worked to find solutions to our country's debt and deficit problems.

Piercey, a native of Clinton, Oklahoma, was commissioned as an officer of the U.S. Navy in 1985, following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. He has had several sea and shore assignments during a career that spans more than 30 years. Piercey became commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic in October 2016.

He has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal (oak leaf cluster), Legion of Merit (two gold stars), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (four gold stars), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two gold stars) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

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