Shortly after noon tomorrow, Nov. 11, members of the university community will gather on the Mall for a remembrance service, where there will be a presentation of the colors in front of the Tower delivered by University of Dallas and University of Texas at Arlington ROTC cadets. Tomorrow’s ceremony will also include an address from Provost Jonathan J. Sanford and U.S. Air Force veteran and UD staff member Michael Leshner.
“From the beginning when it was suggested to have a place for veterans to meet, study and make new friends, I was excited,” said UD Trustee Terry O’Halloran, MBA ’83, a retired U.S. Marine who helped spearhead the establishment of the Veterans Lounge on campus, alongside several members of the UD community. “Having an environment where our veterans can share stories, make business contacts and discuss issues that they have in common due to the stress and fatigue of our last several years: As a Marine, I’m proud that the university has done this for our country’s most valuable individuals.”
“I'm from a military family,” said Robert Watling, a retired Army infantryman who began serving as UD’s new chief financial officer at the beginning of 2020. “I'm really impressed by the culture of service at UD,” explained Watling. “That really translates really well with the military so, from my perspective, the university really has a culture of service toward imbuing truth and wisdom in virtue, and also a sense of service to the church. It's very similar to how the military imbues a sense of service to the country, and to our freedoms.”
“I think about my own higher education experience when I was at George Mason,” he continued. “Having a common space where veterans can gather and convene is really terrific. My alma mater didn't have anything like that,” said Watling, who is also an accomplished marathoner presently ranked 75th in the world and 20th in the U.S. in the Abbott World Marathon Majors rankings. (Watling ended up getting married at the Boston Marathon in 2013, the year of the bombing and returned to Boston to celebrate their one-year anniversary.)
“This lounge will give ROTC students a place to get a better sense for opportunities to serve in the military, and can serve as a gathering place for the students to meet other staff and faculty who have served,” said UD Trustee Al Zapanta, whose decorated Army career spanned 36 years with numerous commendations including a Purple Heart. Zapanta retired in 2000 as a Major General, and has served on UD’s Board of Trustees since last fall.
“Military service and the ROTC program are great ways to give back to the country and earn a great classical education at UD,” Zapanta added.