Veterans Day Commemoration

November 7, 2019


We gather today to celebrate and honor all who served, and are serving, our nation in its armed forces. We do this formally once a year, at ceremonies such as this one, and it is good we do so.  But ideally, we live out our appreciation for service in the armed forces throughout the year. Thank you all for joining us today for this ceremony.


Today I want to mention in particular one veteran, a veteran of nearly every Pacific Island invasion during WWII as a member of the U.S. Navy, my father, James Louis Diacon. Of course, all of us today are thinking especially of individuals who have served and are serving in our armed forces … and here is the briefest of versions of my father’s service.

  • My father joined the U.S. Navy in December 1941, just after Pearl Harbor, at the young age of 17. His mother had to approve his enlistment because he was not yet 18, and he would not turn 18 for another six months.
  • Joining the Navy also lifted his widowed mother out of the poverty they endured in the panhandle of Oklahoma during the depths of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era climate challenges.
  • My father rose to the rank of boatswain mate, and when I was a child, he would bring out his boatswain mate whistle and teach me the various calls.
  • The reward for my father’s service? He was honorably discharged at the ripe old age of 21, and he received financial support from the GI Bill, which he used to earn his bachelor’s and medical doctor degrees in just six years — a fitting reminder that service in the armed forces and a university education continue to go together, and continue to improve the lives of citizens from all socioeconomic ranks.

Our responsibility at Kent State is to facilitate the post-service experiences and successes of our students, faculty and staff who are veterans. Doing this work every day, year in and year out, is the best way we as an institution of higher education can honor those who serve in the armed forces.


Thank you to all who have served.


Thank you in particular to the members of our Kent State family who have served and/or who are currently serving in the armed forces.


Thank you and have the most pleasant of days.