Veterans Day to Be Observed in UC Schools

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The UC system - one of the last public institutions in the nation to do so - will finally begin observing Veterans Day this year, UC President Richard Atkinson announced yesterday.

The decision to commemorate the holiday, which falls on Nov. 11, was prompted by an interest in observing the sacrifices made by California veterans, said Trey Davis, a spokesperson for the university.

"The UC (system) has a certain number of holidays for different things, and there was an interest in commemorating this one," he said.

Atkinson decided the university should observe the holiday after he was approached by several city officials.

"What happened was a San Diego constituent wrote a letter to (State) Senator Bill Morrow, and expressed an interest in the day being a holiday, since the University of California is a public institution," Davis said. "This inquiry was then forwarded to the president, who was very, very interested, and acted on it very concisely."

Davis added that Atkinson has a special interest in the holiday because he is a veteran himself.

So far, no decision has been made as to whether observing Veterans Day will necessitate adding another school day onto the academic calendar to make up for lost class time.

"This is a decision to be made with the academic senate," Davis said. "There are still classroom and union considerations. The faculty is in support of making it a holiday, but I'm not sure what additional steps need to be taken."

Sen. Morrow, a Republican from Oceanside, proposed a bill last year urging the UC Board of Regents to declare Veterans Day a holiday for university students and faculty.

The bill, however, will probably not be debated because of Atkinson's decision, said Mark Stewart, Morrow's legislative aide.

Currently, the UC system is the only public institution in California that does not commemorate the holiday, Stewart added.

"We have been very interested in this issue for a long time," he said. "We are really happy and pleased to see that the UC has reached the decision to recognize those who sacrificed and served in the war."

Although he said he foresees no problems, the decision to observe the holiday will not be finalized until it is discussed and negotiated with university employee unions, Stewart said.

Veterans Day honors members of the U.S. armed forces who served during World War I. In 1938, Congress made Nov. 11 a national holiday. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 16 years later, signed a bill proclaiming it a day to honor all men and women involved in foreign wars.

The reaction to the university's decision has been positive.

"Our thanks to Richard Atkinson for his tribute to our national war veterans," said Bill Smith, a member of the Veterans of Foreign War National Office.


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