OPINION: USC must observe Veterans Day as holiday

Art by Lisa Kam | Daily Trojan

Celebrated yearly on Nov. 11, Veterans Day landed and passed on a Saturday this past weekend, ostensibly forgotten by the greater USC community. Like many other colleges across the United States, USC did not observe this holiday, giving students, faculty and staff neither Friday nor Monday off. While USC heartily supports its veteran students, faculty and alumni with numerous academic and career programs, to cement its support, USC should observe Veterans Day in future academic calendars to remind its population of the courageous efforts of those on campus who have served. A day away from the humdrum of campus life would allow its civilian community to thank veterans freely.

Originally instituted to celebrate a rather transient moment of world peace after World War I, the holiday now commemorates all honorable members of the U.S. military. Federal offices close on Veterans Day and observe the holiday on a Monday or Friday when it falls on a weekend. This year, offices closed on Friday. States and local governments and institutions, however, independently decide whether to observe the holiday. Notably, while many businesses remained opened, schools in the the Los Angeles Unified School District and Cal State Northridge observed the preceding Friday.

Generally, education holds a long-standing legislative history with the military. Introduced in 1944, the GI Bill offers all honorably discharged military members monetary funds to further their education at all levels. Many colleges actively recruit veterans to apply and take advantage of these benefits. USC honors GI Bill benefits and additionally matches any extra costs limited by the legislation. USC has given Americans who have served an additional $2.3 million in financial assistance, awards and  numerous scholarships to ROTC students.

In fact, USC touts these strong and continued connections and support for the U.S. Military. USC served as a training school in both World Wars and introduced an ROTC program in 1943. Today, USC enrolls 894 veteran undergraduate and graduate students and 174 ROTC cadets. In addition, USC offers a degree that is especially tailored to Americans with records of military service.

The Marshall School of Business has a Master of Business Administration that is solely offered to those who have served, and the Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a new concentration for veteran social work. The University’s Veterans Resource Center, established in 2014, even caters directly to the population of servicemembers, helping them transition smoothly back into civilian life. This past week, the Veterans Resource Center held Military Appreciation Week. Veterans attended an honorary luncheon, networking discussion and even free classes through USC Recreational Sports.

Nevertheless, while the center deemed Military Appreciation Week a success, no events were heavily publicized or even made available for the greater community to recognize the service of former members of the military. Since the committee that schedules academic calendars does so three years in advance, USC realistically would not be able to observe Veterans Day until the 2020-21 academic year. Smaller events, however, could be hosted in the meantime. Letter-writing campaigns or other community appreciation events could be held to recognize veterans inside and outside of USC.  

Even though some may argue that students may use the day selfishly to extend their carousing weekends, the University will never be able to control how students spend their day off. Moreover, one could even say the same about the Mondays that USC does observe for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents Day during spring semester. As the community already has been awarded the freedom to honor Martin Luther King and George Washington, observing Veterans Day would allow students, faculty and staff to recognize veterans in addition. USC should take time to honor the timeless bravery of those who have served.

And as always, in observing any holiday, it’s the thought that counts. Merely providing the community with the option to spend Veterans Day away from the collegiate bubble brings attention to the cause. A day off would at least remind the busy community of the bravery and victory of the American forces. As USC extensively supports its veteran community, USC should also observe Veterans Day to allow its greater community to commemorate military valor in whichever way each individual chooses to do so.