Mercer kicks of Founders' Day festivities

Mercer kicked off a three-year commitment to remember the Vietnam War with a Founders’ Day event meant to honor veterans and their contributions.

This opportunity will allow Mercer to host two events each year until 2017, events that will honor the veterans who served in the Vietnam War.

Mercer alumnus and Trustee Lt. Gen. U.S. Army Retired, Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter was the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony.

Kicklighter was in Mercer’s class of 1955, and he has over 35 years of highly-decorated service in the military.

“It’s always a great honor to come back to Mercer,” Kicklighter said. “Mercer gave me the foundation that I needed on my journey of service.”

Kicklighter said that Mercer is a special place to him and that he owes the University much more than he could ever pay back.

“Founders’ Day is a time to reflect on our heritage and remember how proud we are of what this University is today,” Kicklighter said.

President Bill Underwood said that Founders’ Day and the special guests whom Mercer has had in the past are important.

“Founders’ Day was created and organized by students,” Underwood said. “We are able to pause and reflect on our past and recognize that each new generation helps us shape the course of Mercer University.”

Kicklighter dedicated two duties of service in the Vietnam War, and since his retirement, he has continued his public service in the Defense, State and Veteran Affairs departments.

Kicklighter showed the audience a video of what it means to be a Vietnam veteran and to be thanked for their service. “A Moment of Truth” showed a glimpse a veteran’s appreciation for being recognized for fighting for our country.

Dr. Garland Crawford, who is chair for the Vietnam Commemoration Committee, said that Mercer’s contribution is a small part of a national recognition that the veterans deserve.

“We want to say thank you to a group of men and women who have been overlooked for too long,” Crawford said.

Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert A. B. Reichert was also in attendance at this years Founders’ Day as a member of three different dimensions: Mayor of Macon-Bibb, a Vietnam veteran and a Mercer graduate.

“I am proud to be here as a member of all of my capacities, and I want to say thank you to Mercer for your economic impact, your cultural impact, your societal impact and the way you work on the missions here in Macon. You continue to make a difference,” Reichert said.

The Founders’ Day activities also recognized other Mercer graduates who served in the Vietnam War. They were given special pins and honored by Underwood, Kicklighter and the audience.