Dr. John Campbell, a retired U.S. Army colonel, was the featured speaker of the 2013 Veterans Day Ceremony at Clayton State University. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)
MORROW — The breeze brushed over the crowd as Dr. John Campbell orated the stories of sacrifice his family and others have collected in service to the U.S. military.
The water rippled in the lake behind him as passers-by dressed in warm clothes stopped to listen during the Veterans Day ceremony Monday at Clayton State University.
“My family is not special,” Campbell said. “The stories of our veterans is an American story.”
Campbell is a physics professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Clayton State. He is also a retired colonel of the U.S. Army after 25 years, 1969-1994.
“Less than a percent carry the burden of sacrifice for the rest of us,” he told attendees who murmured in agreement.
Monday’s program, held in the Judge Eugene Lawson Amphitheater, featured a welcome by Student Veterans Association Vice President Dennis Brown, the National Anthem by student trumpeter Bryson Manzy and the posting of the colors by Mt. Zion High School’s Air Force JROTC color guard.
“Dr. Campbell gave a beautiful speech,” said retired Army Sgt Maj. James Lowry, whose two sons, Chris Lowry, 32, and Edward Lowry, 25, are members of the miltary also.
Paula Lowry, the co-founder and vice president of Semper Fi Sisters (no relation to James Lowry), also gave remarks. She told the audience about her experiences as part of a family with generations of military service men and women.
Lowry talked about the dedication of her son, Marine Cpl. Chris Lowry, 23, who stood in a corner of the amphitheater with other student veterans that presented the Armed Forces Medley.
The medley flag presentation, called by Student Veterans Association President Kevin Nguyen, included Marine Cpls. Lowry and Azher Khan, 24, both attending Clayton State on the GI Bill.
Army Sgt. Damian Loback and Staff Sgt. Corey James, also in school on the GI Bill, were part of the medley. Both retired from the military having served oversees doing at least one tour each in Iraq.
“You will never be the person you were when you went over,” said James.
“You also appreciate the freedom you have,” added Loback, 28. “It’s an honor to serve. For me personally, I just thought of it as my job. My whole family is military just about.”
However, Loback said he had added inspiration to serve as a youth in his native Milwaukee.
“When I was a child, I met Gen. Colin Powell, and that was a big thing for me,” he said. “I was impressed with him and I appreciated his service. People may not get a chance to come to a ceremony like this, but I would tell them to thank an individual if you can.”