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Bringing recognition and honor to veterans this November was the goal of the Veterans Studies Program, along with Saint Andrews assisted living facility. Being able to not only provide but interact with those who served, as well as their spouses, was an eye-opening experience. The diversity in the veterans and their stories was so interesting to listen to. One of the veterans, Shirley Kerns, is 102-years-old and served in a factory. 

The Veterans Studies Program organized both a letter-writing event and a donation event to ensure that the veterans of Saint Andrews felt appreciated and provided for. We received a wide range of donations, including music CDs, blankets, books, and candy. For the letter-writing portion, students and faculty of Eastern Kentucky University wrote upwards of 40 letters to present to the veterans. Abigail Mulkey and I put these gifts and letters into Christmas themed bags to hand out while the veterans were being recognized. 

The activities director at Saint Andrews, Kelly Benton, also provided the veterans with a hardbound copy of America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs. The book contains beautiful images of all 50 states, the perfect gift for someone who protected the United States and all the beauty it holds. 

Before the event began, I connected with a lady named Dot Hughes, whose husband, Bob, is a veteran. She told me how proud she is, and how they are still each other's best friends after being married for 72 years. An employee at Saint Andrew's, Nora Madden, told me that they take walks every morning and night through the hallways together. Hearing Hughes talk about her love and pride for her husband, as well as her country, was inspiring and moving. 

Madden has a fiance that is currently serving in the Air Force in Germany, so the ceremony was also very emotional for her. During the ceremony, she was wearing a crewneck that read “Air Force Fiance.” 

Witnessing the pride that everyone in the room had during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Watching the veterans trying their hardest to stand while they were honored. Hearing about veterans' experiences and seeing how grateful they were to receive the gifts and have someone to talk to about their lives and memories. This event was both inspirational and humbling.

Allie Goodlett is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in public relations. After graduating, she hopes to continue to graduate school and receive her Masters in Communication.

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