Honoring Our Veterans

For the past three years, we have marked Veterans Day at the Law School by presenting an alumnus with the Distinguished Veteran Alumni Award.  The event is a collaboration between our student Armed Forces Society and our the Armed Forces Chapter of our Alumni Association.  Previous honorees were Gen. James P. Cullen ’69 and Hon. Randall T. Eng ’72.  This year, we honored NYPD Commissioner (and former Marine) Raymond Kelly ’71.  The full story and photos are here.

With Emmanuel Ulubiyo ’12, Commissioner Kelly, and Alumni Association President Tom Principe '73

The room was filled with veterans (alumni and students), as well as several students who are current NYPD officers.  Commissioner Kelly was a gracious honoree, full of praise for St. John’s and for our students and graduates.

In my remarks, I noted how fitting the honor was for the Commissioner, given his life of public service — as a marine who saw combat in Vietnam; as a 43-year veteran of NYPD; as a high-level federal official, heading the Customs Service, heading enforcement at the Treasury Department, and overseeing nation building efforts in Haiti; and as a two-time NYPD Commissioner.  His most recent stint, which started just after 9/11, has been remarkably successful, as he led a reduction of street crime to its lowest levels since statistics have been kept while at the same time creating one of world’s best terrorism fight forces.  I concluded by recalling a line that Commissioner Kelly had used when he was our Commencement speaker a few years ago:

In that Commencement address, Commissioner Kelly said that he had never made a career decision based on money.  He meant that as advice for our new graduates.  But think about what it means for us.  Because Ray Kelly did not follow the money, because Ray Kelly dedicated himself to public service, because of all that he has done, we live and work in a safer city.  For that Commissioner Kelly, as New Yorkers, we are all grateful.  And, as members of the St. John’s community, we are all proud.

Thank you, Commissioner Kelly.

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