Major Amy Cottrell of the Missouri Army National Guard stands Friday, Nov. 10, during a service song medley at Columbia College’s 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony outside the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee House, home of the Ousley Family Veterans Service Center. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Columbia College celebrated a renewed partnership and a new honor during its 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10, outside the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee House.

More than 100 attendees gathered for the hourlong event on the north end of main campus to thank those who serve or have served in the United States military.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of CC partnering with the Armed Forces.

“We are a proud provider of quality education to our military, veterans and their families,” said Rob Boone, associate vice president for Strategic Partnerships & Projects and a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

“We are a proud provider of quality education to our military, veterans and their families.”

Rob Boone, Columbia College associate vice president for Strategic Partnerships & Projects

Several in the audience wore red to recognize a movement known as R.E.D. Friday – “Remember Everyone Deployed.”

Chris Powers, president of the Missouri National Guard Association, joined Columbia College President Dr. David Russell in signing the renewal of an educational partnership.

Columbia College President Dr. David Russell, left, and Missouri National Guard Association President Chris Powers shake hands Friday, Nov. 10, after signing the renewal of an educational partnership agreement. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

“The relationship that we have developed over the years has been really critical to our service members,” Powers said. “Columbia College always makes an effort to interact with our soldiers and makes sure they have educational opportunities that are going to set them up for success.”

Jeremy Amick, a 2001 and 2012 graduate of Columbia College, returned to his alma mater for the ceremony, representing the not-for-profit organization Silver Star Families of America. The organization recognizes the service and sacrifice of veterans wounded or injured from their service in a combat zone.

Each year, Silver Star Families of America selects an individual or organization for its commendation award, honoring them for their work to assist wounded or injured veterans.

During the event, Columbia College was named the first higher education institution to earn the accolade.

Jeremy Amick, public affairs officer for Silver Star Families of America, announces Columbia College as the first higher education institution to be recognized by the organization during the college’s 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10, outside the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee House. Columbia College has more than 20,000 military-affiliated alumni. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Previous honorees include the actor Gary Sinise, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals, the band Three Doors Down and former U.S. President George W. Bush.

The college goes “above and beyond” in assisting veterans, said Amick, who presented the institution with a Silver Star flag. Amick also presented a Silver Star banner to Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose personal military decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit.

Dr. Bryan Stenson, assistant professor of Music, opened the ceremony by singing the national anthem and concluded the proceedings by leading a medley of military service songs. Veterans and family members in attendance stood and sang during the song for the respective branch of service in which they or their loved one served.

Stenson spent six years as a member of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” performing at the funeral of former President George H. W. Bush, in PBS national Memorial Day concerts and at Super Bowl 50.

Friday’s ceremony came on the same day as the birthday of the late Jane Froman, a 1926 graduate of Christian College and one of the college’s most renowned alumnae. Froman is regarded as the first entertainer to volunteer to perform overseas with the United Service Organizations.

Rob Boone, associate vice president for Strategic Partnerships & Projects at Columbia College, speaks Friday, Nov. 10, during the college’s 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony outside the Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee House. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade