When it came time for Joshua Bacigalupi and his wife, Darci, to name their first child, they settled on one that reflected Joshua’s service as a U.S. Army national guardsman in Afghanistan. The new addition to their family was named after two members of Joshua’s overseas, military family.
Joshua, who is pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in school district and school building leadership at SUNY Cortland, will speak about the importance of family to servicemen and servicewomen during the College’s celebration of Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11. The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Fowler Grand Entrance Hall.
“When you are in the military, your unit becomes your family, especially when you are deployed,” said Joshua, who served in Afghanistan in 2008. “And your family back home is just as much a veteran as you are.”
Joshua, a kindergarten teacher in the Cortland City School District, and Darci, the special events coordinator at SUNY Cortland, chose the name Miles Bryan Bacigalupi when their son was born in September. Miles is Latin for soldier and Bryan is the first name of two men Joshua served with in Afghanistan. The name was a fitting tribute to Joshua’s service.
“(Being part of the military) has made me realize that where you are born and where you happen to be a citizen of is dumb luck, and we should be extremely grateful to be citizens of this country, despite whatever imperfections it may have,” Joshua said.
He joined the U.S. Army after reading a story about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It stated that many U.S. Army recruits would come from the poorest and most uneducated areas of the country. Joshua did not think it was fair to place the burden of two wars inequitably on the shoulders of a particular socio-economic group, so he enlisted.
He spent eight years in the U.S. Army: six as an active guardsman in the National Guard and two on the Inactive Ready Reserve List. As a result, his view of the world was altered greatly.
An accurate public perception of veterans is vital, Joshua said. A history book picture of an aging man in uniform communicates only a small part of the definition, he said.
“Sometimes it is weird to think of myself as a veteran,” he said. “…(Veterans) are in your classes, in your work places and in your community. They don’t all go on ‘Ellen’ to collect amazing prizes, they all don't speak at Veterans Day ceremonies unless poked and prodded, and they are an extremely modest and quiet group.
“Our country’s freedom was won on the backs of soldiers similar to those of today. Students need to understand the sacrifices that veterans have made throughout history to ensure the freedoms they have today.”
Parking for SUNY Cortland’s Veterans Day celebration will be available in the lower levels of the parking lot near Graham Avenue and Groton Avenue. For more information, contact Susan Vleck at (607) 753-5453.