Retired Navy Capt. and Clinical Center COO speaks at 2018 NIH Veterans day celebration
Pius A. Aiyelawo, the NIH Clinical Center's chief operating officer, was the keynote speaker for the Nov. 7 NIH Veterans Day Celebration (NIH Staff Only).
Aiyelawo, who retired from the Navy in 2016, after 27 years as a captain, told the audience, "it is truly humbling to be here." He laughed and said, "After almost three years out of this uniform, I had to do an intense physical training to fit back in to it."
He briefly recounted the history of Armistice Day and how it came to be Veteran's Day. He then talked about joining the Navy as a direct commission officer as a way to pay back for becoming a naturalized American citizen.
Of his military career, he said "I enjoyed every moment of that experience. I had truly found a commissioned corps of officers... truly dedicated to service and dedicated to one another; men and women who were the ethos of honor, courage, commitment, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, integrity. I can go on and on."
He said, "I am a forever grateful Navy veteran."
Aiyelawo talked about the men and women serving today who are deployed around the world, "at sea, in the air and on land to protect our national interests, to ensure that American beacon of light continues to shine on the darkest and furthest reaches of the globe."
Glynn L. Honts, with the Clinical Center Nursing Department, a retired Army master sergeant who served 26 years, also participated in this year's ceremony.
"Being a veteran is more than just a label," Honts said. "It is who and what you are: a person with a diversity of skills and leadership capabilities with strong character values that can efficiently perform under pressure. Although I have re-socialized myself to a different pace of life and work I am still a soldier and always will be; just as my relatives who came before me and the sons and daughters who will come after me."
"Celebrating Veterans Day at NIH keeps me grounded in my roots and values as well as giving back," Honts added.
Of the more than 18,500 employees at NIH, 910 (about five percent) are military veterans. More than 140 military veterans are employed at the NIH Clinical Center.