Campus News · Feature

College event features two veterans: McNeil, Kline speak of their service

John Meyer

Lantern Staff

“Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure,” President Kim Krull said during the Veteran’s Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11.  

During Krull’s speech, an honorary speaker at the event, she highlighted the number of Americans who are on active duty and are also among the National Guard or Reservists.  

“Today nearly 50 million Americans have served in the armed forces, and nearly 20 million of you still walk among us,” Krull said. “More than 1.1 million Americans have given their lives to preserve our freedom, and as we speak, a new generation of American heroes and veterans is being forged around the nation in our world. Serving in the cause of freedom and peace around our world, and we’re eternally blessed for their service, for the presence of these men and women who throughout history have believed that liberty is always worth fighting for.” 

Krull thanked the veterans for their service, and she spoke of the Korean War Memorial, which resides Washington D.C., that reminds Americans that “freedom is not free.” 

Butler Community College honored the college’s veterans on Veteran’s Day on Friday in a ceremony that featured Charles McNeil, Commander 06 of the U.S. Navy and a former college instructor. Butler student Kris Kline, Petty Officer 03 of the U.S. Navy, also spoke at the event.  

Kline, who is from northern California, joined the U.S. Navy in 2005, but initially he wanted to become a Marine. Upon learning that the Marines do not have combat medics, which was what Kline wanted to do, he joined the navy instead. His training brought him to different places such as Jacksonville, Floria and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  

“In a nutshell, it’s kind of cliché, but I would say that the Veteran’s Day is a day to recognize the simplest service of the men and women of our great country,” Kline said of what this day means to him. “But to me personally, it’s a day to celebrate the thing I’m very most proud of in my life thus far and that is the service and duty to my country. On Veteran’s Day, I celebrate the brotherhood and the lifelong bonds and friendships that I’ve cultivated over the course of the 10 years that I have in the military….”

In the keynote, McNeil opened his speech by recalling his best friend from high school who died in war on May 27, 1969. On this day, he remembers his best friend and those veterans who have died in war. 

McNeil also spoke of his service, first joining the U.S. Navy before the Vietnam War and retiring before the Iraq War. In total, he served 20 years.  

“The navy taught me three life lessons,” McNeil said. “The first lesson is it’s not about us. It’s about us; it’s not just me. Second is the responsibility and third is you need to get along with people. The military life requires you to change your nature from being an individual to being a part of a group. For me, it wasn’t an easy process.” 

During his keynote address, McNeil recalled fond memories that correlated with the life lessons he learned from the navy.  

The Veteran’s Ceremony concluded with the Butler band. 


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