On Friday, November 11, members of the Law School and William & Mary community gathered for observation of Veterans Day at William & Mary Law School.
The event offered a chance for reflection as well as an opportunity to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the many active duty service members, veterans and their family members among our faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Professor Fredric I. Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology, made remarks, as did Lieutenant Colonel Bob Merkl, Special Assistant to President [Katherine] Rowe for Military and Veterans Affairs.
“This community values military service as a form of public service, and as a very important and demanding form of public service,” said Lederer, who prior to his service at William & Mary was a member of the faculty of the Judge Advocate General’s School and Army Member, Joint Service Committee on Military Justice Working Group. “This school, in many different ways, has gone out of its way to value that service to the state.”
As an example, Lederer offered the Law School’s Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic.
“It is worth noting that the clinic has not just done superb work for its many clients, but it has become a national model,” Lederer said. “Directly and indirectly it has helped thousands of veterans to secure their needed benefits. It is an extraordinarily important and wonderful organization.”
Bob Merkl followed with comments about his first year as Special Assistant to President Katherine Rowe for Military and Veterans Affairs. He noted that “William & Mary is an abundance of riches for veterans,” and that under every stone he unturned, “there was a jewel underneath” at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Merkl also shared his personal thoughts about the meaning of Veterans Day.
“The men and women we remember and honor today have left a legacy and a priceless gift to all of us—the gift of freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom from want, freedom from fear—freedoms that most of the world for most of history have never enjoyed,” Merkl said. “And it is now our responsibility to pass that legacy on to future generations, to ensure that we don't mortgage their future by chipping away at those freedoms in a devil's bargain for a false sense of security.”
“We are called upon today to honor their service, your service and sacrifice, by remembering that we all together are the United States of America,” Merkl continued, “and that in the words of the most famous rallying cry from our own war of independence, we will either all hang together or we will hang separately.”
The Veterans Day ceremony was held by the flagpole that graces the Law School’s Hixon Center for Experiential Learning and Leadership. The flagpole and surrounding patio were dedicated two years ago on Veterans Day in memory of the late Lizbeth A.S. Jackson, the Law School’s former Associate Dean for Administration who passed away in 2018.
“Most of you did not have occasion to know Dean Jackson—to know Liz,” Lederer said. “She was an extraordinary person; I might add an extraordinary administrator. She was, as the plaque notes, both the daughter and wife of army combat veterans. While she went all out for every single member of the student body, she was especially supportive of veterans and members of the armed forces. She was a champion.”
About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s first law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.