Students lead Veterans Day Q & A

As a Freshman at Colorado Academy, Helen Blake set out on a mission—to make Veterans Day special at CA. Her background as a child growing up in a military family gave her a unique perspective on what it means to be a veteran. Now, as a Senior at CA, Helen has been joined by her sister Leah on the same mission.

At a November Upper School Town Hall, Helen and Leah introduced two veterans to the Upper School student body and asked them questions about their experience in the military. One of the two, Dr. Tom Fitzgerald, has a long history at CA as both a former teacher and principal of the Lower School from 1984 to 1999. The other, Ned Harvey ’84, is an alumnus of CA and a former CA parent.

Fitzgerald served in the Navy on active duty from 1957 to 1959. He was a sailor on the destroyer USS New, based in Norfolk, Va. USS New was one of a group of destroyers and a small aircraft carrier involved in anti-submarine patrols along the East Coast. Fitzgerald also spent time in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay, before the time of Fidel Castro, and he spent the summer of 1958 attached to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Harvey earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California San Diego and was recruited into the Navy nuclear program as an officer. After 18 months of training, he decided to serve on submarines and joined the crew of USS Hawkbill, based in Pearl Harbor, for more than three years. He then spent nearly three years working on the Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program in Washington, D.C. He left the Navy in 1996 to attend Harvard Business School.

From Left: Leah Blake, Ned Harvey ’84, Dr. Tom Fitzgerald, Helen Blake

Questions and answers

Leah and Helen had a series of questions for each veteran. Why did you join the military? What does being in the military mean to you? What does being a veteran mean to you? How has being in the military shaped your experience as an American? What would you say to a CA student thinking of joining the military?

Their answers gave CA Upper Schoolers something to think about.

“I went into the military because my whole family had served. Both my father and my brother served in the army—my father in WW I overseas and my brother in WW II.” Dr. Tom Fitzgerald

“I don’t like it when people say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ I went into the military for myself—to serve, to grow up, to be part of something bigger than myself. The military gave me the opportunity to serve.”  Ned Harvey ’84

“You join because you believe in the mission, and it’s an experience you will not get anywhere else in the world. It’s a time to grow up, and it’s different from any other line of work. I think that serving in an all-volunteer military is different. When we were drafted, there was a wide variety of people from across America. Either way, it is a noble enterprise.” Dr. Tom Fitzgerald

“I encourage young people to go into the military. It’s a great choice. I do think it has come to represent something different after 9/11. September 11 seemed to change things. I wonder if people are now advocating for American greatness, rather than demonstrating American greatness. To put it another way, are we trying to enforce greatness, rather than bring about greatness in the world?”  Ned Harvey ’84