» By CONOR SCRUTON – cscruton@my.apsu.edu

With its proximity to the Fort Campbell military base, APSU has always made a special effort to honor our nation’s veterans.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, APSU’s College Republicans and Sigma Phi Epsilon faternity held a banquet in the MUC to benefit the Clarksville Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. Tickets to the event were $30 and covered the cost of a full meal, as well as a donation to the VFW. They raised over $600 through the event, which was presented to the VFW by College Republicans President Michael Jenkins.

After the dinner, the program was introduced by College Republican member Justin Littlejohn. The program also honored the 236th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps. “I’d like to thank APSU, the College Republicans … but most of all, I’d like to thank our veterans here,” Jenkins said. According to Jenkins, the College Republicans’ officers decided to hold the event four months ago when they traveled to Fort Campbell to welcome troops home.

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity also had members present. Treigh Patterson and Trey Norman personally thanked all the veterans on behalf of their fraternity. Patterson comes from a military family.

“It was a lot of moving around growing up, a lot of changing schools, but it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice you veterans have made for our country,” Patterson said.

The primary speech was given by 22-year marine Capt. Larry Hesler, commander of Clarksville’s VFW Post 11160. “The Veterans of Foreign Wars are 112-years-old. I’ve been a member for 45 of those years … My father was a World War II veteran and my grandfather was a World War I veteran,” Hesler said.

Hesler stressed the importance of honoring America’s veterans, active duty men and women and fallen soldiers. Hesler also showed a good deal of appreciation for the event coordinators. “It’s great to see so many young people getting involved,” Hesler said.

“It’s been such a pleasure to meet all these great men and women,” Littlejohn said as the program concluded.

“The importance was to honor the veterans of all wars … because without them, I couldn’t even fathom what kind of place we’d live in,” College Republican freshman, Ashton Maltie said.

Clarksville city councilman and five-year military veteran Nick Steward — who spent time in Korea and Afghanistan while enlisted — was also in attendance. Steward praised the student organizations’ work to put the event together. “It’s very important to express our gratitude to the veterans in our community,” Steward said.

The event was successful in honoring our nation’s veterans and giving APSU students a chance to do their part. “I have three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, and they couldn’t have bought a better meal than I had tonight,” Hesler said. TAS