Tomorrow, here at Suffolk and across the United States, we will take a day away from school and work, to recognize and honor the service of our veterans. We are grateful to and proud of our more than 150 veteran and active military students here at Suffolk, as well as all members of the Suffolk community who are veterans. To all of our veterans at Suffolk and across the United States, thank you for your service.
This year, in the wake of a particularly divisive presidential election, Veterans Day to me feels especially tied to the privilege we have in this country to vote and freely express our opinions. Open and vigorous debate must continue to be the hallmark of our country and this institution. Veterans have guaranteed our right to do so, often at great personal cost, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
I am thankful that I have the right to vote and to participate in our democracy. I also recognize that this right brings with it a responsibility to engage in the democratic process, well beyond Election Day. This presidential election has served to highlight difficult issues that face our nation and the world: terrorism, social and economic inequalities, trade and globalization, ethnic and religious tensions, sexism and gender inequality; racism; regional and local disparities, and political polarization. These are challenging and emotional issues. Irrespective of our political affiliation or views of the outcome of this election, we have a responsibility to work together, to reach across the fault lines that divide us, to try to solve these challenges.
I hope you will all do so as private citizens, and I know we must do so here at Suffolk. As an institution of higher education we have a responsibility to try to address these issues and to do so in an inclusive way. We must do so in our classes and outside of them and as we talk with each other one on one or in groups. We must work to include all voices and perspectives, ensuring that all members of our community feel safe engaging in the important process of addressing our collective challenges. We will only succeed if we move forward together as an inclusive community that embraces the rich array of individuals, backgrounds, orientations, and beliefs that make up the Suffolk community and the nation as a whole.
As you take time out tomorrow to reflect on the service of veterans across the country, I hope you also will reflect on how you can help us move forward here at Suffolk as an inclusive community dedicated to working together to face our challenges. The strength of our democracy and of Suffolk will be measured by how well we continue to work through our differences to build a stronger country and institution.
Marisa J. Kelly