It is the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 as I write this note.
Another Veterans Day Holiday has come and gone on the Murray State campus with little or no recognition. During my nine years at the University, we have had a few Veterans Day activities, but we have never closed the campus to observe the holiday as we do for other holidays.
The University boasts of being a “military friendly campus” – but apparently not so much on Veterans Day.
I suppose it is just not convenient for the University to observe Veterans Day.
I am sure that academic calendars are done months or even years in advance and it must be hard to accommodate everyone.
A few U.S. national holidays seem to be engraved in stone as days that must be observed by closing the campus. I don’t remember a single Labor Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day since I arrived that we didn’t close the campus.
Once patterns like this are established, it is very inconvenient to make a change. Maybe Veterans Day will get a turn in 2014, but we wouldn’t want to inconvenience anyone or do anything that wasn’t politically correct.
Convenience and accommodation are very important, of course.
We definitely want to have a two-day Fall Break. That conveniently gives us all a four-day weekend. Labor Day comes early in the semester and is always observed on a Monday which makes it convenient and gives us a three-day weekend.
We all benefit from our established pattern of closing the campus on convenient or politically correct holidays, and sometimes on seemingly arbitrary days for Fall Break, but I would like to take a moment to mention some things that are inconvenient. Military service is inconvenient. Leaving your home, family and friends for basic training is inconvenient.
Leaving your spouse, children, pets, full-time job and homes for months or years at a time on military deployment is very inconvenient. Most of all, being injured, wounded or killed while in the military is very, very, inconvenient.
I believe that every traditional holiday observed in the United States has merit and should be respectfully observed to the extent that schedules will allow.
I do not believe, however, that long-deceased American heroes such as Washington, Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. would place themselves, or their holidays, in front of living American heroes like our surviving veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq or the other conflicts and deployments of the past 60 years.
Our living veterans are walking, talking symbols of the sacrifices that have been necessary to secure our liberty and the opportunities offered by this nation. In the future, I hope the individuals responsible for planning the University calendar will think a little less about convenience and habit, and a little more about honoring our local veterans by closing the campus to observe the Veterans Day holiday. We don’t have to do it every year, but once in 10 years would be a start.
Letter by Mike Bowman, Professor of computer science