In observance with May’s National Military Appreciation Month, leaders from Kitsap county’s military community, active duty service-members, and students gathered in the Olympic College gymnasium on May 11 to participate in the 8th annual OC Tribute to Veterans and Active Duty Military.
Starting promptly at 11:00 a.m., the Bremerton High School Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Color Guard executed a presentation of colors while Christopher Longmire of the SGOC sang the National Anthem.
Dr. David Mitchell, the President of Olympic College, opened the ceremony with facts pertaining to the student-veteran population of the institution.
“The college has the second largest veteran population of any higher education institution in the state. There’s 1300 [veterans] this year, 240 are dependents of veterans, 201 are active-duty, 460 are active-duty dependents, which accounts for over 2,200 [military personnel] total, and that’s close to 20% of our student population. The military is a very critical part of what Olympic College is all about. Thank you to all the veterans and active duty for your service to our nation,” said Dr. Mitchell.
Capt. Thomas Zwolfer, Kitsap Naval Base’s Commanding Officer, was the first guest speaker to provide an enlightening message, praising the student veterans of Olympic College for their efforts on the battlefields and in classrooms.
“Education is important. The world is constantly changing, and by being here at Olympic College, you understand the points of adapting, growing your skills and broadening your horizons… college is a launching pad for an entire lifetime of discovery. Our country has shown their appreciation for you by providing you options to further your education. I hope that you take full advantage of the people who are in here, and on your own, by paying it forward, by becoming not just the best employee that you can be, but the best thinker, the best mentor, and the best citizen you can possibly be,” said Capt. Zwolfer, who trained at the United States Naval Academy, in the submariner sector and different command installations.
Following the ceremony, the United Services Organization served a barbecue lunch free for active duty military and veterans.
This ceremony was open to all OC students and staff who wished to celebrate the efforts of their fellow service-member peers, and will be hosted again next May.