Memorial Day started in 1868 as Decoration Day, a remembrance of those who died during the Civil War. Over the years, cities and states designated it as a legal holiday, and in 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as a national holiday to take place on the last Monday of May every year.
Every Memorial Day, a special ceremony is held at Arlington National Cemetery, where the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Locally, Bakersfield’s oldest traditional Memorial Day celebration takes place at Union Cemetery, this year featuring speeches by Kevin McCarthy and local veteran Bill Glaspie, who fought the Nazis on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago on D-Day. The Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary held their sixth-annual Thousand Flags event, and Tehachapi celebrated with a parade and ceremony through downtown. KERO provided a list of local Memorial Day events on their website.
At BC, we are proud of our veteran students and have a particular duty to support them through their education. We’re reaffirming that commitment to our local veterans with the construction of the new Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center, the first Measure J project, slated for completion this fall.
We remember the sacrifices made and lives lost defending the freedom and sovereignty of the United States. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.
I’d like to share this quote from James A. Garfield at that first Memorial Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868.
“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue.”
Emails Worth Sharing
I’d also like to share this email that our Director of Veterans Services Paul Beckworth sent on Monday. Our duty to support veterans goes much deeper than academic support, as Paul’s words of encouragement for our veterans make clear. Thank you for all that you do Paul, and thank you to those who have served our country.
“Hello Region V Veteran Services colleagues,
Today, May 27, 2019, is Memorial Day.
The vast majority celebrate it as the unofficial start of summer. Many Americans honor the day and the dead, in a variety of heartfelt ways. However, there is a much smaller group whose acknowledgement of the day goes deeper than most. It is personal, it is emotional, and it is visceral. While today we remember the fallen, we must keep in the mind the ones who were left behind; their families and fellow warriors. There are people I know who wish to be left alone today and others who do not want to left alone for fear of what their emotions might lead them to. Sometimes, people remember with laughter and tears, while others do so with the bottle and with tears.
For those who lost comrades, or family or best friends, please do not go to those dark places inside you. If you do go there do not stay there. We need you, here, with us. We know the 22 a day suicide rate among veterans. It is terrible. Do not be a part of the 22. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Depression is serious. It is a weight the likes of which cannot be described, only experienced. If your arm is hurt, you go the doctor. If your head/heart hurts, go to a doctor. There is no shame in it. It is often said that the soldier is not the only one who goes to war. The family does, too, in its’ own way.
Those of you who work closely with veterans may not have lost a loved one, but assisting veterans for years can take a toll, especially for counselors and advisors. Who counsels the counselors? Seriously. There are several of you who have worked with veterans for many years now. Make sure to take care of yourselves. Go to veteran-specific conferences, sit in the hotel lobbies and have venting sessions with your colleagues from across the state. Let iron sharpen iron. Get help just like we tells our veterans to do. I am pretty sure most of you have walked a veteran to your on-campus mental health professional at least once. If you need to take a walk to one yourself, please take it. We need you, here. Your military-affiliated students need you, here.
Paul Beckworth, May 27, 2019 Memorial Day
While today can be very emotional, one of the best ways we can honor the fallen is to take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits. In this way we can continue the work ahead of us, making them proud.”
BC Friends in Sacramento
Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) hosted its 2019 Latina Action Day in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 22. Our own Nicole Parra facilitated a panel discussion, and I was thrilled to see BC students impromptu participation. Evelyn Torres, a Studio Arts, Graphic Design & Communications major volunteered to be the voice of millennials on the panel.
The panel on California’s Present and Future Workforce examined the challenges and opportunities the state is facing as we look to filling workforce needs. The conversation regarding career education included an informative discussion of the value of apprenticeship programs, and the role community colleges in meeting workforce needs. Evelyn shared a student perspective on the importance of providing opportunities for all students, including those who need short term training leading to employment.
Thank you Norma Rojas Mora for your work in Sacramento.
Rural Initiatives Classified and Support Staff Appreciation Celebration
Last week, the Rural Initiatives classified and support staff were recognized by the management team in a surprise celebration of Classified Appreciation week. This celebration brought together members of the RI team that serve a region that extends from Arvin to Delano. I’m grateful for the focused dedication and passion for serving our rural students. Thank you Rural Initiatives Classified and Support Staff for everything you do for our Bakersfield College Rural Renegades. Also thanks to our RI Management team, especially Jaime Lopez for coordinating such a special celebration.
Administrative Council Retreat: Day 1
This last Thursday we had the first day of our annual summer retreat with our college-wide administrative council. BC Food Services provided a fantastic breakfast spread and a delicious salad bar later in the day for the lunch. I opened the session with an overview of our college strategic plan and highlighting the fact that we now have 37,000 students! Our administrative council fanned out across campus in teams as they completed in a scavenger hunt.
Members of our college Program Review Committee briefed the council on best practices for conducting their program reviews for this coming year and Manny Mourtzanos provided a training on aligning work plans to direct us as embark on a new year. It was a great retreat and great work that we will regroup on to finish up on a second day in early June.
Umoja’s End of the Year Celebration
This week, Umoja held its end of the year celebration to acknowledge its graduates and mentors. Students joined together to celebrate their academic success and celebrate their mentors who dedicated time and energy to support their scholarly journey at BC. Thank you to Dr. Paula Parks for sending over these photos, and for your dedication to our students. If you’d like to learn more about Umoja, make sure to check out their website!
Conexiones Rurales Dreamers Conference
The Conexiones Rurales Dreamers Conference on Friday, May 17th at the Delano Campus allowed our Rural Renegades to learn about several topics including programs and services offered by our college and other local institutions. This opportunity was funded by the Catalyst grant received by Bakersfield College. Thank you to our Conexiones Estudiantiles/LUPE student organization, their advisors and the Rural Initiatives team, especially Jesus Oropeza, Jessica Garcia, and Jaime Lopez for bringing these fantastic opportunities to our rural communities.
BC Cheerleaders at the New Kids On the Block Remix Tape Concert
Wow! Does BC know how to pump up the crowd, or what?! Also, what an amazing throwback to have the New Kids On the Block perform here in Bakersfield! They definitely have “the right stuff.”
I want to thank Cheer Coach Heather Foss for making possible this phenomenal experience for our students. It’s hard to describe the energy of the packed Rabobank and and the pride I felt in seeing our students on stage.
Thank you Manny de Los Santos for capturing this video. You are the very best!!!!!!
Cooking a Healthy Meal with Chef Alex Gomez
This week our Executive office team demonstrated their culinary skills at our Wellness & Professional Development Session: Cooking a Healthy Meal with Chef Alex Gomez. The team learned cooking and cutting techniques, and were given recipes to prepare — then eat! We enjoyed Cauliflower Tacos, Cilantro Rice, and Grilled Zucchini.
The Executive Office has a standing Wellness Initiative that began a couple years ago, as well as a new Training/Professional Development Initiative that began last year. Chris Glaser and Tarina Perry worked with Chef Alex for help in meeting goals for both initiatives and did he ever deliver! The training was clear and engaging, the menu healthy, and the food delicious. We worked in teams to prepare the meal, and then enjoyed our meal together as we discussed our takeaways from the day. Thank you to Chef Alex and Chef Suzanne Tangeman for working with our team on this, and thank you to Chris and Tarina for organizing the activities!
Progress on Memorial Stadium
The renovation of the Memorial Stadium track and football field is moving along nicely. The work will be completed in time for this fall’s football season. We are all excited to see the finished product! Also, thank you to Brandon Urry for capturing these photos.
Photos that make me happy
Family weekend at Lake Arrowhead
Memorial Day weekend with family at a cabin in Lake Arrowhead.