Start of a new Veterans Day tradition as Cornell lights McGraw Tower green

Veterans Day is a tradition that goes back nearly a century to its origins as Armistice Day, and the Greenlight a Vet tradition is much newer. This year, Cornell joined this growing tradition of respecting our nation’s veterans by lighting McGraw Tower in green for Veterans Day.

“Greenlight A Vet aims to build a bridge for veterans and civilians to connect and start a conversation,” says David Outlaw, a Cornell senior and president of the Cornell Undergraduate Veterans Association, of the effort, which encourages everyone to change one light in their homes and offices to green and keep it lit every day.

Cornell lit its clock tower green for Veterans Day for the first time this year. Photo courtesy of Cornell.

Cornell lit its clock tower green for Veterans Day for the first time this year. Photo courtesy of Cornell.

For Cornell, this year was the start of an annual tradition to light the clock faces of McGraw Tower, the clock tower on central campus, a bright green. A major renovation project a few years ago added LED-based lighting that could be set to any color for special occasions, including the tradition of orange jack-o-lantern lighting on Halloween.

“Cornell will light McGraw Tower green, so even if we can’t always see our veterans, they can always see our support,” says Outlaw, a U.S. Navy veteran who served on a nuclear submarine based in Hawaii and at an outpost in Italy.

Dr. Joseph Burke, executive director of Cornell’s Campus & Community Engagement office, says the university is making the “greenlight” move to recognize and honor the service of current veteran students, alumni and faculty who have served honorably in the military. He says Cornell will assemble “a diverse committee of students and administrators to draft a new McGraw Tower lighting policy that uses our important campus symbol as a beacon to raise awareness of important student populations, while also maintaining the respect and integrity of our most iconic building.”

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