By: CHRISTINA CLARK
IU South Bend celebrated Veterans Day a day early with a choir, a color guard and a discussion after an induction ceremony for student veterans into the Salute National Honor Society.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Chancellor Terry Allison, John Thompson, chair of the Department of Fine Arts, and Rodger Pinto, president of the campus Student Veterans Organization all addressed a crowd in the lobby.
There, they inducted Navy veteran Joshua Butler, Airforce veteran Lauren Roberts and Army veteran Rodger Pinto into the Salute National Honor Society, which requires a GPA of at least 3.0 to join.
Speakers showed their appreciation for the veterans’ rolls in the community and country as well as for veterans pursuing goals in higher education. The speeches reacted to national commentary as well as local initiatives.
“One thing I think we need to do as a society is have a better balance in the way that we talk about our relationship with veterans, because sometimes it sounds as though politicians talk about veterans like mouths to feed,” said Buttigieg. “While that is done often with the best of intentions, it neglects the fact that veterans, as a general rule, are most fulfilled when best able to contribute.”
Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the Naval Reserve, was called to duty in 2013 while serving as mayor of South Bend.
“What really matters is what you can do for your unit and what you can do for your country,” he said. “All of us knew we had a job to do and we came to take each other seriously across different divisions, different backgrounds, different political persuasions, something I think our American society as a whole could do a little more of.”
Thompson added to the conversation on how the current political climate affected his reflection on his service in the Army.
“I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I was joining the army, that’s what I knew,” explained Thompson, who enlisted at 20 years old.
“After I finished, that’s when I knew what I was there for, and it wasn’t because I was patriotic—I do love this country. It wasn’t that I had this need to fight, it was that I was working with and working for the people on my right and the people on my left,” Thompson said.