On Saturday, February 1, during halftime of the women's basketball game vs. William Penn, former Marine officer J.J. Konstant, SAU '03, was presented with the Fighting Bee Award.
Here is the transcribed speech given by SAU Vice President for Enrollment Management John Cooper:
Good afternoon. It's a great privilege to be here to personally proclaim this day "Military Appreciation Day" at St. Ambrose University.
As the son of a Korean War vet, one of the first things I looked at when I started at St. Ambrose two years ago was how the university could better serve veterans and service members and their families.
I am proud to say that the very first position I created was Coordinator of Veterans Recruitment and Services, because we saw the importance in making St. Ambrose University truly veteran friendly and supportive.
The position has developed over the past two years into a strong advocate for our student veterans and a great asset for the school.
In addition to improving our services to veterans, events like this are a way for the school to show our appreciation for the sacrifices that military men and women make on our behalf every day. We are humbled by the selflessness of their service and honored that they would choose St. Ambrose University for their education.
Not many folks are aware that St. Ambrose has a wonderful history of educating past, current and future members of the military.
During World War II, St. Ambrose College was a host site for an officers training program, which brought young men from all over to our tiny campus to train to become leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Ambrosians were present during the Pearl Harbor attack, at Normandy during D-Day, at the Battle of the Bulge, and on Okinawa. And that's only World War II.
St. Ambrose has awarded hundreds of degrees to service members and veterans of every major conflict.
We count among our alumni military chaplains, pilots, foot soldiers, SEALs, medics, and at least two former prisoners of war. Veterans have graduated St. Ambrose to become lawyers, doctors, professional athletes, priests, congressional staff members, educators and administrators.
Even the ninth president of our university, William J. Collins, was a Navy vet, and was nicknamed "Sailor Bill" by students.
We are truly a university entwined in military service, which is something we celebrate and in which we take great pride.
I'm pleased to note that many of the vets in attendance today are students or alums of St. Ambrose, including the gentleman we've chosen to recognize with our Fighting Bee Award.
J.J. Konstant is a 2003 grad and former all-academic conference basketball player at SAU. He went on to serve as a Marine officer in both Afghanistan and Iraq, earning two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.
J.J. was gracious enough to return this weekend to speak to our athletes, faculty, staff and guests on his military experience and on the subject of leadership. In the spirit of the Fighting Bee Award, there is truly no better person I can think to honor.
We present this award to recognize the selflessness that J.J. showed not only through his military service, but through his continued dedication to the students of the university.
On behalf of St. Ambrose, I would like to say "Thank you for your service" and God Bless. We are humbled and forever grateful. Thank you.
The Fighting Bee Award is presented to those who exemplify the spirit of St. Ambrose University and SAU Athletics through service.