A Color Guard from American Legion Post 177 of Fairfax, marches in the Grand Entry at the Powwow at Dewberry Hall Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity Programs and Services. Photo By Antonieta Rico

George Mason University celebrated its student veterans and others who have served the country last week with several events held throughout campus.

Mason’s Army ROTC Patriot Battalion hosted a Veterans Day luncheon for veterans on campus and the surrounding community Thursday at the Center for the Arts Building.

“Every year we want to go ahead and show our appreciation,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kameron Jones, a soldier with Mason’s Patriot Battalion.
Jones said the luncheon not only showed veterans appreciation but it also served to give ROTC cadets insight into the life they will embark on after college.

“It shows them the importance of being in the military,” Jones said. “It also shows that people respect what they do.”

The guest speaker at the luncheon was retired Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, a former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency and also a distinguished visiting professor with Mason’s School of Public Policy.

“As a student I appreciate that the college campus is actually recognizing veterans,” said Renee Prall, a junior transfer student at Mason who served 12 years in the Marine Corps and attended the luncheon.

Mason’s ROTC Color Guard also participated at the 8th Annual Veterans’ Powwow on Wednesday. The Powwow, a “central social event for indigenous culture,” was sponsored by the Office of Diversity Programs and Services, and also included a Color Guard from American Legion Post 177 from Fairfax.

During the powwow, Keith Colston, one of the masters of ceremonies, took time to thank veterans for their service and invited all veterans at the Powwow in Dewberry Hall to the front of the room to be honored by the attendees. Veterans also received gifts as tokens of appreciation.

“We are celebrating … because of these individuals here before you,” Colston said to the crowd gathered for the Powwow. “They made it possible for us here, to enjoy today.”

In other military related events on campus, Mason’s Semper Fi Society held a cake cutting ceremony for the Marine Corps 235th birthday on Wednesday at the Johnson Center.

The Semper Fi Society will also be hosting Toys for Tots drive into December. People can donate new and unwrapped toys at a Toys for Tots kiosk on the first floor of the JC every Tuesday and Thursday in November until Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Two permanent drop-off boxes are located at the Office of Military Services on the second floor of the JC. The toys will be given to needy children in the community.

Aaron C. Emery, transition assistant coordinator with OMS said that holding military related events helps ease the transition into college life and fosters a communal atmosphere for student veterans at Mason. “People can relate to it and it gives them a sense of belonging,” Emery said.