Veterans Day 2015 Ceremony Brigadier General Michael Fantini Keynote Speaker
Veterans Day 2015 Ceremony Brigadier General Michael Fantini Keynote Speaker

In 2014 Chancellor Kent Syverud reaffirmed Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans and their families, making it clear that serving veterans was one of the university’s primary missions. During the 2015 Veterans Day ceremony, it was clear that Chancellor Syverud’s commitment to veterans has not wavered. The Veterans Day Ceremony took place at 11:00 am on November 11, 2015, in Hendricks Chapel. Led by Jordan Robinson, Master of Ceremonies and Syracuse University Student Veterans Organization (SVO) president, the Veterans Day Ceremony was a visible display of gratitude for our nation’s veterans.

U.S. Navy veteran and SVO Vice President, Daniel Piston, spoke on the history of Syracuse University Veterans. He reminded onlookers of the university’s proud history of serving U.S. Armed Forces veterans, beginning with Chancellor William Tolley after WWII. Piston likened Chancellor Tolley’s mission of serving veterans to that of current Chancellor Syverud.

A highlight of this year’s Veterans Day celebration were the remarks delivered by the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Brigadier General Michael Fantini, United States Air Force.

General Fantini is the principal Director for Middle East Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, Washington D.C. He is a command pilot with more than 3,200 hours in the MQ-9, F-16, T-37 and T-38. General Fantini’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

General Fantini praised Syracuse University’s commitment to veterans under Chancellor Syverud’s leadership. He told the audience that he was happy that he had made the choice to come to Syracuse University and that during his visits to the campus he felt that there was something special about this university. General Fantini stated that if he could bottle up the environment at SU and “sprinkle it across the Middle East” that there would be “a lot less problems.” This positive environment must have been a factor when his daughter, Elizabeth chose to attend Syracuse University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship.  As General Fantini closed his remarks, he spoke of another great accomplishment that he would be able to claim by the end of the day, enlisting his daughter into the United States Air Force.

Cadet Elizabeth Fantini had a part in the ceremony as well. She delivered the flag that was presented to Chancellor Syverud. This flag was later raised outside the steps of Hendricks Chapel as the audience looked on. As the ceremony concluded, a wreath was laid in front of the WWII memorial, a sign of Syracuse University’s continued support of veterans and their families.