Honoring Their Sacrifice

Dear Tulane Community:

The upcoming Memorial Day holiday is a time to honor the memory of those who have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. As we honor the fallen — including many Tulanians — we also salute those members of the university community who continue to serve our country, exemplifying the selfless sacrifice of “not for one’s self, but for one’s own.”

Back in March, I had the honor of interviewing Gen. Stanley McChrystal during The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane. With humility and humor, the retired four-star general shared some of the wisdom he earned over decades of service in the military. Addressing the ROTC cadets in the audience, he noted that great leaders must be as imaginative and as adaptable as possible.

One of those cadets was Justin Ryan, Cadet Battalion Commander of the Army ROTC Orleans Battalion, who introduced Gen. McChrystal at the event. In his introduction, Justin noted that his own decision to join Army ROTC was connected to his deep belief in Tulane’s motto. Public service, he explained, is “paramount to furthering our community, our nation and our planet.”

This past weekend, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Homeland Security Studies with a minor in Political Science from the School of Professional Advancement (SoPA), Justin was commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. Meanwhile, his classmate Lora Ivy was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after earning dual degrees from Newcomb-Tulane College: a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. They were among seven Tulane graduates, two Xavier University graduates, and one University of New Orleans graduate from the Tulane-based Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC units to be commissioned into the U.S. military upon receiving their degrees.

Another Commencement participant was Robert Billard, who was celebrating his upcoming graduation from SoPA’s Master of Professional Studies program. After serving in the Marines for nearly twenty years, Robert enrolled in the Emergency Management master’s program, which he will complete this summer. He continues to serve our country as a Marine Corps Logistics Officer, currently stationed at the Pentagon.

Tulane has long been ranked as a top university for veterans based on the benefits and resources we offer to those who have served (as well as for active duty members), our acclaimed ROTC program and the welcoming environment we extend to veterans. Our EDI Professional Development Program offers a course called “A Call to Duty…A Passion to Serve — Supporting Veterans at Tulane.” I encourage faculty and staff to consider enrolling in this session to learn more about supporting our veteran community. As we take a break from work and studies this weekend, let’s pause to remember the commitment and sacrifices this holiday represents, the memories it enshrines and the freedoms secured by those we honor as a university and a nation.