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Veterans Day Celebrated at CCSU

by Isabella Cenatiempo

Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 10 at Central Connecticut State University with a ceremony to honor those who fought for our country.

“In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov. 11 as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to eradicate themselves to the cause of peace. Later, President John F. Kennedy said at a Veterans Day ceremony, and I quote, ‘As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by,’” President Dr. Zulma Toro said to the crowd.

More than a million American service members have died in service to this country. More than 1.4 million lived with wounds while fighting for the United States and more then 2.5 million former service members are still living today, as shared at the ceremony.

“We are especially proud of the students of CCSU who have served and are putting their lives on the line in the trouble spots of the world,” Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Peter Troiano said.

Three CCSU veterans were honored at the ceremony: U.S. Marine Corporal Salvatore V. Sena Sr., Connecticut Air National Guard Staff Sergeant Dorota Gdula and Connecticut Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Tasha E. Dow.

The Veterans Public Service Award for Excellence was awarded to Sena Sr.

In 1964, Sena Sr. enlisted in the Marine Corps. He graduated from CCSU in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering and management.

“My men know me and I am not going to leave the podium until I have thanked everyone being a veteran,” Sena Sr. said when receiving the award. “There is one thing you wind up learning, most of you here know a veteran learns the words, we and team. It was drove into our heads a long time ago, there is no I in team, you cannot get anything accomplished by being alone, and I know there was no way I was going to get anything accomplished without my fellow Marines and my fellow veterans throughout the state. It’s to them that I want to say thank you very much and if it was not for you, I wouldn’t be standing here right now and to you all, I thank you very much.”

The Student Veteran Award for Excellence and scholarship was given to  Gdula. In 2012, she joined the Air National Guard. She grew up in a small town called Zmiennica in southern Poland. When Gdula was 17 years old, she moved away from home to attend college in the U.S. Gdula attended Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, as well as West Virginia Northern Community College. When she moved to Connecticut, she enrolled in Asnuntuck Community College where she earned her second associates degree. After this, Gdula attended CCSU; she graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology.

The Great Elm VFW 9945 Wethersfield Veterans Scholarship was received by Dow. Dow enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard one month after her eighteenth birthday. Dow currently has two semesters left at CCSU; she is pursuing her degree in exercise science.

“You have a lot to be proud of here at CCSU for many different reasons. The CCSU extended family really cherishes and supports veterans. [The university] seeks out veterans to be students and  honors them. [This] is not true in all communities in America, but it is true here in New Britain, and it is true here at CCSU, and that creates a culture of respect and of service that is needed now more than ever,” Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy said.

The mayor signed three proclamations, saying “As mayor of the city of New Britain, I join with all gathered here today in thanking Salvatore Sena Sr., Dorota Gdula and Tasha Dow for their service to our country, state and community and congratulate them on being given three different awards.”