POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks hosted A Patriotic Tribute — A Soldier’s Journey to welcome Dr. Bruce Heilman to campus yesterday, May 2, 2016. The ceremony was held at Veterans Grove on the College campus.
Heilman made his stop at College of the Ozarks as part of a 6,000-mile, cross-country motorcycle tour to visit memorials throughout the U.S. His goal is to help raise public awareness about the upcoming series of 75th anniversaries of the events that took place during WWII between 1941 and 1945.
“I want to honor the more than 2,000 Americans who died on Dec. 7, 1941, as a way to remind people of the true meaning of Memorial Day, which is to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in service to our country and the importance of always being alert to the threat of attack,” Heilman said.
“There’s no greater feeling of pride and self-worth than to stand for your country,” Heilman said. “Freedom doesn’t come free, it has to be earned.”
The special ceremony included opening statements from College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis: “At College of the Ozarks, we have taken a leadership role in patriotism — we are pleased to play our part.”
Bryan Cizek, former Army ranger and C of O instructor, also provided remarks. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
“We are called to serve a cause greater than ourselves,” Cizek said. “We will never experience the level of intensity that one experiences during combat ever again. After one is called to carry a fellow warrior off the field of battle, and put him onto a helo (helicopter) and say goodbye to him for the last time, it’s hard for me to say I’ve ever had a bad day again. We all share visible and invisible scars [from combat].”
Bob Sarver, Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, and VVA 913 public relations director, spoke about the Vietnam War, where he served.
“I was blessed that God allowed me to return home,” Sarver said. “I had no physical scars—but emotional scars. It is so nice to walk this campus and experience the patriotism, The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Christian attitudes from the faculty, staff, and students.”
More about Heilman’s journey
Heilman has teamed up with fellow Marine Veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, one of the six surviving Congressional Medal of Honor recipients of WWII, to promote the creation of memorials to Gold Star families in every state in time for the commemoration of 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in 2020.
Heilman plans to travel through several states that had ships in Pearl Harbor that were sunk or heavily damaged during the attack that plunged the U.S. into war, including the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS California, USS Utah, USS Nevada, and USS West Virginia.
He will begin his month-long trip by traveling from his home town in Kentucky to San Diego where he received his basic training as a young Marine before shipping out to the Pacific to serve in the final battle of WWII. He will return to Richmond by Memorial Day.
Heilman served as president for 16 years and 30 years as the chancellor of the University of Richmond. The University is hosting a national symposium, organized by the Virginia WWII 75th Anniversary Commemoration Commission that was established last summer.
The Commission is planning a homecoming event at the Virginia Veterans Memorial for Heilman when he returns home on Wednesday, May 25. He will conclude his epic rid by joining the annual Rolling Thunder rally in Washington, D.C. and riding in the National Memorial Day Parade.
Heilman is undaunted by the prospect of riding thousands of miles with 1,000 pounds of bike and gear. Last year he traveled a similar route to kick off the 70th anniversary commemoration of the end of WWII, and in 2014 rode more than 5,000 miles to Alaska to honor his late wife, Betty, who gave him his first Harley on their 50th anniversary when he was 72.
A lifelong educator, Heilman hopes that the youth of America will actively participate in the upcoming 75th anniversary commemorations and carry forward the legacy of his generation.
“I am confident that today’s youth have the same qualities of character and potential for greatness as my generation,” said Heilman. “There are plenty of big challenges facing them.”
More about Heilman
In addition to his experiences and travels as a Marine in World War II in the South Pacific and Japan, Heilman has covered more than 140 countries as he has escorted travel groups abroad annually for more than 30 years and is a member of the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club International.
Heilman became Chancellor at the University of Richmond on Oct. 1, 1988, after serving as president and chief executive officer for approximately 17 years. Prior to beginning his long association with the University of Richmond in 1971, he had served as president of Meredith College beginning in 1966.
A renowned and respected educator, he has served as a consultant to many educational, religious, and charitable organizations and has been a member and officer of numerous professional and educational boards and organizations. These roles include member of the Board of Campbellsville University, advisory board trustee at William Jewell College in Kansas City, member and former Chairman of the Board of the Marine Military Academy in Texas, Member of the Board of Visitors of the Marine Corps University at Quantico as well as serving on the Advisory Review Board of the Service Academies and the Board of Directors of the National Defense University Foundation, Inc.
Among other honors, he was selected as one of the 100 Most Effective College and University Presidents in the USA through an Exxon Foundation sponsored study; he was named as one of the Richmond Area’s Most Influential People in 1984 and 1986; awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from Campbellsville University and Peabody College; and selected as one of only two Reverse Exchange Eisenhower Fellows to the Republic of China in 1987. He received the Charles D. Johnson Outstanding Educator Award from The Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools in 2004.
For more information contact Valorie Coleman, public relations director, at (417) 690-2212.
About College of the Ozarks
College of the Ozarks is a Christian, liberal arts college located on a 1,000-acre campus in Point Lookout, Missouri. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The college earns numerous accolades yearly, including being named the #1 Best Value College in the Midwest for 2015 by “U.S. News & World Report.”
The Keeter Center — the College’s four-star lodge, restaurant, and conference facility — was ranked the No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2016. It features fine dining, historic lodging, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 students employed in every facet of the operation, it is the largest work station on the College of the Ozarks campus.
To achieve its vision, College of the Ozarks pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, begun in fall 2012 for high school students, and the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, opened in fall 2014 to K-sixth grade students. Seventh and eighth grades were added in fall 2015, completing the K-college model. For information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212 or visit www.cofo.edu. Follow College of the Ozarks at www.facebook.com/collegeoftheozarks or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.
05.03.16 – Valorie Coleman