Harvard Military Veterans Honored at the Kennedy School

Veterans share stories of war and military life.

Throughout our campus we are surrounded by quiet heroes. Some have helped a family member or friend through a difficult time, others have worked for non-profits to bring aid to the needy, and others have served our country and put their lives at risk. To honor the veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, an event was held on February 20th at the Kennedy School of Government, sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics and Center for Public Leadership. Over 100 veterans from both the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School were honored.

The event began with a panel discussion “Leadership Lessons from the Front Lines: KSG and HBS Veterans Share Their Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan.” The event was kicked off by a military color guard and the panel was moderated by Frederick Wellman (Lt. Col., United States Army UH-60 Aviator, Public Affairs Officer, Iraq; Kennedy School Mid-Career MPA ’07) and David Gergen (director of the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership). Next, veterans discussed their stories, reflected on their experiences, and responded to questions in the Q&A segment. Those represented on the panel included, Oscar Hall (Lt. Col., U.S. Army Armor Battalion Commander, Iraq; Kennedy School National Security fellow ’07), Daniel Wagner (Former Major, U.S. Marine Corps Civil Affairs Officer in Iraq; planner, Afghanistan ’02; Kennedy School MPA ’02), Joseph Ewers (Major, U.S. Army Infantry Company Commander, Iraq; Harvard Business School MBA candidate ’07), and Maura Sullivan (former Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Operations Officer, Iraq; Kennedy School and Stanford MPA and MBA candidate ’08). For those who have served, there was an instant bonding and appreciation for many of the common experiences shared.

The veterans were then honored, with their partners, at a dinner at the Charles Hotel. The keynote address was presented by Lt. General Lute, an alumnus of the Kennedy School and graduate of West Point, where he taught social sciences. General Lute also attended the British Army Staff College, served in Operation Desert Storm, and worked for the Chief of Staff of the Army. In 2002, he commanded Multinational Brigade East in Kosovo before becoming Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S.-European Command. Immediately prior to becoming Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he oversaw combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other speakers at the dinner included Kennedy School Dean, David Ellwood, the Rev. Peter Gomes, and the Director of the Center for Public Leadership, David Gergen.

“Harvard has a long and honorable tradition of paying tribute to its sons and daughters who have served the nation in military uniform. The names of those who have fallen in combat are appropriately remembered on the walls of Memorial Church and Memorial Hall at the center of campus. As controversial as the Iraq war is today, it is nonetheless fitting that we honor those who have served, and we are proud that this evening is occurring. The veterans themselves deserve a great deal of the credit for the planning,” said Gergen.

Special thanks to the donors who made this event possible, including the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust of North Carolina, Donald and Betsy Dixon of California, the Charles Hotel, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hopefully, we can all remember to give thanks to these quiet heroes in our everyday encounters.