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DeSales Salutes Veterans and Service Members at Veterans Day Ceremony

by Paige Hawk Nov 12, 2021

The DeSales University community, veterans, service members, and other visitors—including several friendly canines representing Tails of Valor, Paws of Honor—gathered for a special Veterans Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Plaza. 

The ceremony commenced with a patriotic salute from the Southern Lehigh High School band, the posting of the colors by Southern Lehigh’s color guard, and a performance of the national anthem by the DSU chorale. 

“Today, we remember, we celebrate, and we believe that our military personnel—especially those who study here at DeSales and have graduated from our great school—are people of peace and justice in their hearts, their homes, and their communities. Their service identifies them as role models and their commitment to peace and justice marks them as heroes.”

 Father James Greenfield ’84, OSFS, president of DeSales

One of those role models and heroes is John Kukitz ’81, a Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, who graduated from the ACCESS program. 

“I try to live my life by serving and helping others,” said Kukitz, after describing his experience serving in the Vietnam War. Kukitz continues to serve our community in various capacities, at one point participating in eight boards of directors. He is grateful for having graduated from DeSales, and for being one of several Vietnam veterans to participate in the ACCESS program at the time. 

“We were all treated exceptionally well by faculty and staff,” he explained. “The ACCESS program met my family’s needs and allowed me to continue my education.”

Brian White ’22, an ROTC cadet and current president of DeSales’ Student Veterans of America (SVA), shared Kukitz’s commitment to helping others and recalled feeling honored the first time someone thanked him for his service. 

Pennsylvania State Representative Milou Mackenzie then spoke about the impact of military service on the family. She noted that while she is not a veteran, her family has served in every war since the American Revolution. 

“This is a very special day to all of us who love freedom and our nation,” began Mackenzie. “I have seen firsthand the commitment, and the bravery, and the love that [veterans and service members] have, and I’m so grateful for that because I know that they do it out of love for our family, our country, our community, and our God.”  

Following Mackenzie’s comments, several University staff members and Jateese Gardner ’23, a veteran and DeSales SVA member, participated in the laying of the wreath.  

The event also featured a “Missing Man” table set with a Bible, a lemon, a rose, and various other meaningful objects. The table honors members of the armed forces who are prisoners of war, fallen or missing in action, as well as the experience shared by their loved ones.

For more photos from our Veterans Day ceremony, visit our Flickr album.