By Israel Larson, Staff Writer
Last week, Pikes Peak Community College honored the bravery, sacrifice and strength exhibited by military veterans through several events hosted around the three campuses.
One event was the special thank you the college gave to our student and faculty veterans. Honoring those who have unselfishly served this country and its allies is what makes PPCC the number one school for veterans.
Thursday’s program was introduced by PPCC English Professor Dana Zimbleman. Throughout this program Zimbleman brought comfort and understanding to what it’s like being a veteran and the many hardships faced through war both on the side of those serving and the side of civilians. Bringing such a wide range of feelings to the table is what made this program so powerful and the students and staff who attended had much to say.
“When I was doing my research, I wanted to actually look at passivism, the people who spoke out against the war, not the ones fighting in it. The socialist groups thought that warfare and war in general was a way for the government to manipulate people. The working man vs. the working man,” said PPCC student Joshua Van Sanford.
Listening to the research conducted by students allows for a more diverse range of knowledge on war and the fact, not everyone was for it. It’s important to showcase every side of the spectrum in order to acquire a better comprehension of what many people have experienced during these trying times.
“When you talk about World War I, you can’t avoid the numbers and since we’re talking about the last day of the war, I’m gonna throw out one number at you. The Germans announced at the end of the war that about 1400 of their soldiers died every day from August 1914 to November 1918. As horrible as the first world war was, in the second world war from 1939 to 1945 a human being on this planet died every three seconds. We didn’t learn. Hopefully we know now,” said PPCC student Mike Staunton.
Now these are but bits and pieces of the information these students displayed but they still hold a powerful message. Each and every nation was affected in one way or another by these wars and it’s important students and staff can see the bigger picture here. Veterans day is for all who served on every front. This program was to thank all who had risked their lives in hopes of bettering a world under fire.
Continuing on, the program took a step in the direction of war’s direct impact on Art and Literature, another aspect of war not often taken into consideration. Lead by professor Amie Sharp, students Kayla Barsocchini, Ashley Collins, Dee Retting, Delaney Evans, and Jarod Sharkey read off famous war poems written during World War One. Poets such as Jessie Pope, John McCrae, Vernon Scannell and a few other historical poets were featured, and professor Sharp explained the impact such poems had on literature even to this day.
To ease the tension a bit and bring a more comedic approach to the situation, Navy veteran and PPCC professor, Gary Walker, read his piece about his life lesson in the military involving a “designated doofus.” Walker explains that him and his fellow soldiers had given another soldier the spotlight for being a target for their pranks.
“He was eager to please and gullible,” explained Walker.
Retired Army Staff Sergeant and current PPCC student Nikole Connor took the floor accompanied by her service dog Hamlet and described her experience in the military as well as a little bit of background on the assistance her service pup provides.
“I did two tours in Iraq beginning in 2003 and another tour in 2005. I served 12 years and was medically retired out of Fort Drum New York. I decided to become a history major because a lot of history has to do with wars and has to do with a lot of different aspects of what we repeat. Being in Iraq, you notice some of the same things that we repeat while we’re over there. Being on the inside of a war and looking at wars from the past it’s almost inevitable that you’re gonna get the same outcome,” explained Connor.
Connor then goes on to explain how her service dog is like her battle buddy and how he helps her with the anxiety of transitioning from military to civilian. Hamlet gives Connor the power to go to school, the grocery store and many other places she would often feel discomfort.
“There are soldiers out there who need service dogs like him (Hamlet) so if you see a soldier with a service dog just think about how much they had to do and how much they’re going through now that they need a battle buddy on the outside,” Connor said.
Wrapping up the program, retired Colonel and current Associate Dean of the Math and English department here at PPCC, Joseph A. Southcott walked the audience through the hidden impact of being a Veteran. He explains that Veterans day is a day for all Veterans and that all men and women who chose to fight for their country are being recognized.
“The letter V stands for volunteer. For the letter E, I chose the word entrepreneurial. There are five characteristics of an entrepreneurial. They have passion, they’re always looking for ways to get it done better, they’re optimistic, they take calculated risks and they execute. The letter T is for trained. There isn’t a veteran that did not go through bootcamp and bootcamp is where we mold, we take the citizen, the son or the daughter and we turn them into trained soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians. For E, I chose expert because after we go through bootcamp you then go to another training situation that identifies you in a specialty. For R, I chose the word ready. For A, ambassadors. When you have the uniform on, we are ambassadors, we’re ambassadors of the United States of America. They represent everything that is great about this nation. Now for N, I believe every Veteran is a national treasure,” said Southcott.
The men and women soldiers of this country work hard each and everyday to ensure our protection here at home and their sacrifice was appreciated this month at PPCC.