As I frequent our country’s busy airports, I see more and more spontaneous applause and standing ovations for active duty service men and women as they board and deplane. It’s a great pleasure to see respect and honor given every day, not just on formal celebration days, to these special men and women.
We pause this week to formally celebrate Veterans Day. This is more than appropriate, but what we owe these special men and women can never be relegated to a single day. Unlike former generations, less than one percent of us respond to the call to protect and defend our fundamental way of life and the freedoms we hold so dear. So, those who voluntarily choose to stand in harm’s way, prepared to risk everything for the rest of us, are truly special individuals deserving of our respect and honor in return.
I recently enjoyed visiting with three of Tennessee Tech’s most celebrated veterans: General Carl Stiner (ret.), General Don Rodgers (ret.), and Admiral Vinson Smith (ret.). These great leaders represent so many others who left Tennessee Tech to serve our country with dignity and valor while also promoting their alma mater to the rest of the world. In fact over the past 60 years, the Tennessee Tech ROTC program has produced seven general officers.
I am delighted to report that the TTU ROTC program not only survived last year’s threat of closure, but has come soaring back stronger for the challenge. With the help of additional university scholarships and a new recruiting coordinator, our ROTC enrollment has nearly doubled since last year, with a higher percentage of cadets in the high demand areas of engineering and nursing. This summer our junior/senior cadets scored third best in the nation in their tactical knowledge and retention of material taught in their junior year. We recently moved the ROTC program into new housing in a more centrally prominent location near the quad, and we are about to complete construction of the new 42-foot rappel tower for cadet training. Yes, Tennessee Tech ROTC is alive and well and positioned to produce many more talented and dedicated service men and women in the future.
Please join me in thanking all of our Tech ROTC graduates, and all U.S. military veterans for their selfless service to a very grateful nation. May God bless the United States of America and those that serve.