Liberty University honored our nation’s servicemembers and veterans in a special convocation service on Wednesday that featured Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, an original member and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force special operations unit.
The service was part of Liberty’s annual Military Emphasis Week.
Boykin’s military career is extensive. During his 36 years in service, he has been involved in numerous clandestine operations globally. He led a task force in Colombia to hunt the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar and helped capture Manuel Noriega in Panama. He commanded Delta Force during the Battle of Mogadishu, depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down. Boykin also served six years in intelligence and was a member of the National Security Policy Coordinating Committee for Terrorism.
|Convocation included the Posting of the Colors as the Sounds of Liberty sang the National Anthem.|
Today he is an ordained minister serving with the Kingdom Warriors ministry and a distinguished professor at Hampden-Sydney College. He is the author of “New Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom.”
After the Posting of the Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, Taps and a recognition of all servicemembers, veterans and families of active military and veterans, Boykin spoke on preserving the Judeo-Christian values upon which this nation was founded.
He said Americans are in a downward spiral of values and faith and they need to return back to God to preserve their country’s identity.
“I am very concerned about the direction of this nation, but my punch line is: If we as a nation of believers … will rise up and come together, we have nothing to fear in the future,” he said.
He asked veterans and active servicemembers to stand and recite the U.S. Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment.
“Let me remind you that the doctrine you signed when you took that oath … there is no expiration date on it; you are expected to continue to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. My charge to you is don’t forget your oath,“ Boykin said.
He encouraged students to be involved in politics, to vote, to run for office and to get involved with organizations that support Christian values.
“I really enjoyed how he incorporated the idea that political correctness is something we don’t need in politics or the military,” said junior Caleb Bliesner, a member of the U.S. Air Force. “I think we just need to say things how they are and get back to the basics.”
Special guests in convocation included members of the U.S. Armed Forces working at the Pentagon.
Liberty currently has more than 19,000 members of the U.S. military taking courses residentially and online.
|A luncheon was held for all Liberty faculty, staff and students who have served or are currently serving in the military.|
A luncheon was held in the Williams Stadium tower to show appreciation for all faculty, staff and students who have served or are currently serving our country.
Nathaniel Hertzog, a special projects coordinator for Liberty’s Military Affairs Office, is a senior Criminal Justice major and a member of the U.S. Army. He is preparing for his first deployment, to Afghanistan, next week. He said in working with Liberty’s military students, and in his personal experience, Liberty gives special care to servicemembers’ needs.
"We try to just provide for them any way we can," he said. "Through our military outreach program, we send care packages and try to get students linked up with our ministry team as far as helping them through prayer ... we're trying to grasp more of that personal ministry as well as helping with the education side."
Other events throughout the week include a reception for student military groups, a military panel from the Pentagon, a post-traumatic stress disorder awareness seminar and a trip to the National D-Day Memorial.
On Sept. 13, Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Barry Bartasavich presented Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. with an American flag that was flown by troops at Camp Hansen in Marjah, Afghanistan, on June 15, representing Liberty University.
“We flew a flag every day so we all took turns,” he said. “I flew this flag the entire day in the face of adversity. It was pretty special for me. This school has been so good to me.”
Bartasavich was in Afghanistan for seven months, from January to July. He started taking courses through Liberty University Online about two years ago and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Originally from DuBois, Pa., Bartasavich, plans to finish his Liberty studies online and participate in Liberty’s Commencement on May 11.
Bartasavich said he felt he lacked the discipline to start his college career after high school, but almost 44 years later he only has six more credits to complete.
“It’s difficult, and Liberty was very helpful,” he said. “It’s not like you’re sitting in a traditional classroom, and when you have a question you can raise your hand and ask the professor … when you have a question [studying online] you email the professor, look up a tutor – they replied back to me within 30 minutes, there was no long wait.”
“I’m a part of Liberty and Liberty is a part of my family – I think they’ve done a lot for me,” he said. “I think going to a Christian school and following the word of the Lord … helped me in my spiritual life a lot.”
Bartasavich has served in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) for 27 years. He is scheduled to return to Afghanistan for one more tour of duty in July 2012.