Each Veteran’s Day our students meet with military leaders to discuss the life and sacrifices of military life. This year’s conversation was particularly poignant. It took place at Arlington National Cemetery with Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, the highest-ranking military officer to lose a child in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts. Kelley’s current position is Senior Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; he has a long and decorated military career in the U.S Marines, as the dozens of medals on the uniform he wore attest.
We met Kelly in Area 60, the section of the Cemetery where soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. (The plane that hit the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 flew directly over Area 60.) Kelly shared the history of the Cemetery and explained some of the symbolism of each headstone before stopping by the graves of several soldiers he knew.<p class="content-image"> <img src="https://res.cloudinary.com/segl/image/upload/w_820,f_auto,q_auto:good/SEGL-059-1.jpg" alt="" title="General Kelly and SEGL students." /> </p> At each site he told a different personal story honoring the solider buried there. Afterwards, he answered questions about his career, ethical dilemmas he faced as a leader, and U.S. defense policy. Before leaving Area 60, students paid tribute to his son, Marine Second Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly, who died almost exactly one year ago and is buried in Area 60.
Click here to read a story that the General handed out during his talk.