On Veterans Day, we pause to honor and commemorate our nation's military — those who have bravely served our nation to protect our freedoms. Austin Community College District (ACC) would like to thank our veterans for their selfless service. The college is honored that more than 150 veterans have chosen to work at ACC. We asked a few of them about their service and what Veterans Day means to them.
Mark E. Harden has been the manager of Veterans Affairs at ACC for more than 20 years and adjunct faculty with the Business Studies Department for nearly the same amount of time. Before coming to ACC, he served 26 years in the Army.
What does Veterans Day mean to you?
I've written about Veterans Day often enough through the years. This is one of those entries:
And so it's Veterans Day, Armistice Day, when the guns of Europe became silent on the 11th hour on this 11th day in 1918, a date that sometimes seems not so terribly long ago. A fortunate few of you might still have a thin connection to this Great War, the one that was to end all others, as if there might ever truly be such a thing. You may cherish some small treasure or memento; perhaps a photo of a grandparent or great grandparent in military garb, secreted deep in a cedar chest along with other equally fragile heirlooms, pulled out every once in a while and smiled upon with a comment about how much like your own offspring the young man looked.
But there are no veterans with us from that time. They too have all drifted away and are silent as well. Yet on this day we can carry in our hearts the voices of all veterans, past, and present, even as we celebrate one another.
I hope you have a rewarding Veterans Day.
Which branch of the military did you serve in and what was your rank and/or position(s)?
I spent a quarter of a century in the Army, from 1974 to 2000. I retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 3. As a Warrant Officer (Chief) I supervised multifunctional teams that provided logistical support to Infantry, Armor, and Artillery units.
Where did you serve?
I served with the 1st CAV, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 2nd Infantry Division, the 5th Infantry Division, and the 6th Infantry Division. My tours included Germany, Korea (three tours), Alaska, and Somalia (during the infamous Black Hawk Down debacle).
Why did you choose to serve in the military?
Like so many young men and women, I was restless. I dreamt of being the great American novelist and thought I should explore the world. To paraphrase Robert Burns, I discovered that the best-laid plans of mice and men do go astray. Still, I wouldn't trade my experiences, the greatest of which was bringing a platoon of men and women home safely and relatively sound from a combat zone. And from those travels I have managed to put together a few lines of poetry, some of which have found their way into a handful of quiet publications.
How did the skills you learned in the military translate into your life and career afterward?
The military taught me many things. From it, I learned and practiced the art of patience. Another lesson was the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. I learned that there is no substitute for leadership, and that leadership is as much about compassion as it is about the transactional approach to accomplishing a mission.
What do you want people to know about our military?
We should never take the sacrifice and dedication of our men and women who have served in the Armed Forces for granted. Their efforts are largely unnoticed and nearly exclusively unsung. The very least we as a nation can do is to recognize their service once a year.