Veterans Day is an essential American holiday — it is a time for us to reflect on the honor and sacrifices made by the heroic men and women who served in our armed forces throughout history. Unfortunately, Veterans Day is also one of the federal holidays that the University does not observe by providing a day off. While Princeton is under no legal obligation to provide time off for students and faculty, it should certainly consider doing so.
When I first arrived at Princeton, I was taken aback by the apparent lack of attention given to Veterans Day. It was truly surprising to learn that students wouldn’t have the day off and that we would carry on with our regular routines as if Veterans Day held no significance. Having attended public school all my life, taking time off for Veterans Day was the norm. Even if students did not actually attend any celebration or formal remembrance ceremony, the customary annual day off on Nov. 11 reminded us that it is important to honor the sacrifices of those who served in the armed forces.
A day off for Veterans Day is more than just a moment of rest; it is a collective acknowledgment of the immeasurable contributions and sacrifices of our veterans. It provides us with an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and remembrance. It instills in us a sense of responsibility to honor their legacy and to carry forward their commitment to a better, safer world.
Princeton University officially provides eight holidays annually: Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, and Juneteenth. Besides Christmas and Thanksgiving, Labor Day is the only holiday where students have a day off from scheduled classes. While the University does organize Veterans Day observance services at the Chapel, its reluctance to grant a day off for all students and faculty suggests a shortfall in its dedication to honoring veterans.
Unfortunately, many veterans struggle with high poverty and mental health concerns. Ideally, the University should use Veterans Day to give back to veterans in need by partnering with local groups and community initiatives for veterans. Through these initiatives, the University can play a pivotal role in alleviating the hardships faced by veterans. This proactive stance would not only honor their sacrifices but also demonstrate the University’s profound dedication to producing engaged and socially responsible members of the broader national community.
The University needs to remember that without the sacrifice of veterans, our privileged and peaceful living would not even be possible — we wouldn’t even be able to celebrate other holidays like Labor Day or Thanksgiving. From the early battles of the American Revolution to the liberation of Europe in World War II, American troops have been at the forefront of servicing their nation and humanity. Indeed, veterans throughout history have embodied Princeton’s informal motto of serving both the nation and humanity, perhaps in greater ways than many Princeton students have. The least we can do to commemorate their service is to set aside a day in our lives and acknowledge all that they have sacrificed for us.
Prince Takano is a senior majoring in Politics. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.