Army Capt. Alex Canacci ’10 could empathize with the Corps of Cadets and members of Culver Girls Academy standing outside the Legion Memorial Building for the Veterans Day ceremony on a snowy Monday morning. He told them he remembers a similar ceremony with “the biting cold winds cascading from Lake Maxinkuckee.”
And, Canacci admitted, he remembers little of what was said. “It is my hope that each of you will be more attentive to the words being spoken than I was a decade ago.”
After Culver, Canacci graduated 18th in his class from the United States Military Academy in 2014. He has served in Italy and Poland with Operation Atlantic Resolve. He is currently the assistant brigade operations officer at Fort Benning, Georgia, and is responsible for current operations taking place within the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. In March, he returned to campus to meet with students during the Culver Connections weekend.
Cancacci said Veterans Day offers current military personnel the chance to “extend an extra thanks to our veterans.” The military honors service and sacrifice through awards, ceremonies, and hallowed locations like the Legion Memorial Building, as a way to celebrate – and appreciate – those who have come before them.
“As we say in our Ranger Creed, these veterans have ‘set the example for others to follow,’” he said. These veterans left the organization better than they found it and have entrusted it to the current personnel “to carry the mantle forward.”
So, it is an opportunity to thank veterans for their faithful service to the nation, for the organization they have left behind, “and the trust you place upon the American service member to carry on your legacy.”
Veterans Day also gives people a special chance to capture that legacy, he told the group. No matter what war, conflict, or service at home, the military life occupied a large amount of each veteran’s life and his family members’ lives. It is their shared experiences that bind the overall military family together.
“Today, I ask that you make your time available, open your heart and listen to what our veterans have to say,” Canacci said. “In their stories we hope to appreciate the sacrifices and contributions they have made and better understand what it means to serve.”
Veterans Day also serves as inspiration to those currently serving, he added. With an all-volunteer force, the significance of our veterans’ service “cannot be understated,” he explained.
“It is the spirit of selfless service that lives in our veterans, and that is the rallying call for those who may wish to serve. Their incredible support of our armed forces is out of love for our country, and their service inspires current and future soldiers to follow in the example our veterans have set.
“Our veterans cherish their military service. They chose to serve, and continue to support, our armed forces, their fellow soldiers, families, and future generations out of love of country,” he added. “Their service inspires excellence in our military, and the fighting spirit to keep our nation free.”
He finished by reading a poem written by Kelly Strong when she was an 18-year-old high school senior. He found “Freedom Isn’t Free” while searching for a piece for his speech class with instructor Mitch Barnes during his second-class year.
“It has stuck with me from that moment forward,” Canacci said, adding, “Mr. Barnes, I’ll stand by afterward for your critique.”