Radford University hosts Joshua Himan '06 as keynote speaker at Veterans Day Ceremony
When Joshua Himan '06 graduated from Radford University, he began to put his finance degree to work in the corporate world.
Despite having top sales and the door open to a bright career, Himan realized that he wanted more. In order to build a legacy of service to his country, family and friends, Himan joined the United States Marine Corps.
He returned to RU on Nov. 11 for the university's Veterans Day ceremony to share his stories, which included one of service, as well as one of survival, recovery and resilience when he was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan.
"I was more afraid of not doing my duty than I was of dying," said Himan, who, in 2009, became paralyzed from the chest down after his Humvee ran over an improvised explosive device. "Sixteen men in my battalion lost their lives. My sacrifice is nothing next to theirs."
Himan's return to Radford as the Veterans Day keynote speaker was met with the open arms of a campus that appreciates and acknowledges his choice to serve and his inspirational return from injury.
"Radford wholeheartedly supports the men and women who choose to serve their country, and it is important that we gather to acknowledge their sacrifices," said RU President Penelope W. Kyle, who attended the Veterans Day ceremony with members of the faculty and administration. "Josh's story is one of incredible perseverance and inspirational bravery."
In his keynote address, Himan spoke about the rewards and challenges that come with being a Marine. He found an unshakeable brotherhood with fellow servicemen, as well as an equally demanding lifestyle.
"Boot camp was something I'm glad I did but would never want to do again," he said, smiling. "When I was there I used to think about my all-American college experience at Radford a lot. Living in a room with three other Marines … made Muse Hall look like the Ritz-Carlton."
Since his return, Himan has worked to build his new, unexpected future. He earned his M.S. in finance from George Washington University and will receive his M.S. in applied economics this fall from Johns Hopkins University. Today, Josh works as a financial analyst and entrepreneur. He attributes part of that success to his RU experience.
"The people here were incredible and that’s what makes the university special," he said.
Members from all around the RU community attended this years Veterans Day ceremony to welcome Himan and to acknowledge all of America's veterans.
Colby Bender, president of the RU Student Government Association, opened the ceremony by leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It’s phenomenal to be here," Bender said before the start of the program. "It’s really special that we honor our veterans at Radford and we give them the ceremony they deserve."
RU Army ROTC cadets also attended, showing solidarity for the service members that came before them.
One of the cadets, Jharet Crawford, a freshman media studies major from Burlington, New Jersey, offered his thoughts on the meaning of the day.
"Veterans Day is important because it’s how we show our respect to all those who have served," Crawford said. He was also interested in understanding Himan's journey and what it is like to show that kind of resolve. "I want to know how it affected him, and what it’s been like to go through all that. He's inspiring."
In addition to Himan's keynote address, the Veterans Day ceremony featured a presentation of a memorial wreath by Greek leadership, performances of the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" by the Radford Pitches and Andrea Beland respectively, and a short history of Veterans Day given by Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Bill Kennan.
Richard Alvarez, CFO and vice president for finance and administration and retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, also spoke, discussing his service as a Marine fighter pilot in Vietnam and the lifelong impact his service has had.
Alvarez reminded the crowd that nobody hates war more than a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman, but they will always be at the ready when called.
"I returned after my first tour of duty with 255 missions under my belt and a lot older than my 22 years," he said. "But we served with our heads up and we served proudly for the cause of freedom."
Freshman Andrew Freedman, a criminal justice major from Stafford, was in attendance to hear the stories of service being told.
"A lot of my family members have served in the military, but I think it’s important to hear the stories and experiences of all of our soldiers," he said.
The Veterans Day ceremony ended with the playing of "Taps" to commemorate those lost in service of their country.
Following the ceremony, held in the Hurlburt Student Center auditorium, a quieter presentation took place. Members of the RU women's softball team presented Himan with a plaque thanking him for his service on behalf of the entire RU Athletics community, a connection brought about through Himan's younger sister, Sarah '10.
"His sister was one of our teammates on the softball team," said Mackenzie Blackwell, outfielder and senior sports medicine major from Dolphin. "It was an easy choice to be here today to show our support."
The Veterans Day ceremony and Himan's return to campus were sponsored by the Club Programming Committee, Military Resource Center, Student Veterans Organization of Radford University and Student Activities.