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Together in Spirit for Veterans Day Although W&L's annual Veterans Day gathering won't take place this year because of COVID-19, the university would like to salute all veterans.

VeteransDay004-800x533 Together in Spirit for Veterans DayVeterans from the W&L community gather for the annual Veterans Day event on Nov. 11, 2019.

In years past, veterans in the Washington and Lee University community have gathered in front of Lee Chapel to share details of their service and join in a prayer for all service members, then join in coffee and fellowship. That in-person gathering was canceled this year because of COVID-19, but Washington and Lee University still would like to thank all veterans — at W&L and beyond, living or dead — on this Veterans Day 2020.

Mark Fontenot, fire safety systems inspector at W&L, and Paul Burns, director of environmental safety, have been organizing the annual gathering for several years. The group, which has included law students, faculty, staff and retirees, starts the event in front of Lee Chapel and follows it up with coffee in the Reeves Museum. The gathering has grown in size since its first year, but Fontenot and Burns decided this year to err on the side of caution and keep veterans safe amid the pandemic.

“Thank you to all veterans for taking on the fight,” Burns said at the 2019 gathering. “It is a battle that not all of us are willing to fight… We pray for those of us who continue to serve and for our brothers and sisters around the world.”

Mike Young, retired director of public safety and a Vietnam veteran, said at the 2019 event that he loves Veterans Day. “All of you who served should be very proud of that,” he said. “We did this and we did it for a reason, and we are proud of that.”

Fontenot and Burns look forward to welcoming all W&L veterans to a gathering next year on Nov. 11, 2021.

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