Veterans Day Special: Matthew Bennett
Today, we remember the veterans who have fought to preserve our freedom. For one member of the St. X community, Veterans Day holds a greater significance than for most of us. Both of Matthew Bennett’s grandfathers fought in World War I, his uncle fought in the Vietnam War, and his cousin graduated from West Point five years ago and is currently serving in South Korea.
Due to the influence of those family members, Bennett has wanted to join the military from a very early age. He was even thinking about it when his grade-school track coach told him, “Next year, you need to come out for cross country.”
He was heavier than most of the kids on the team yet not discouraged. “This will get me in shape for the military one day, so I might as well start up,” thought the young Bennett. From then on out, he stuck with cross country.
The past four years of St. X running haven’t been an easy road: Head coach Chuck Medley’s practices are demanding. Freshman year, Bennett told his teammates every day that he was going to quit, but he always came back. “After you go through a year of running with your buddies, you just can’t let them down. I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t stop running with the team. They are my brothers,” said Bennett.
He also couldn’t give up on his fitness. Bennett plans to enter an ROTC program in college. Upon graduation from that program, he would be a first lieutenant in the army. From there, he wants to progress into the Delta Force or Green Berets. “That’s my dream,” says Bennett.
He says that St. X has helped him to become a better leader and that cross country has put him in the best possible shape. Both of those attributes are crucial to success as an officer in the Army.
Major General Edward Tonini, St. X class of 1964, echoed that sentiment in his speech during the Veterans Day ceremony at the new alumni armed forces monument on campus. “Looking back, I can see how Xaverian value of respect, honor and serving parallel my military training,” said Tonini.
Bennett hopes to join the ranks of former Tigers that served in the armed forces. What drives him to do so? “Someone has to do it; it might as well be me.”
For full video coverage of the Veterans Day ceremony, go to http://www.saintx.com/page.cfm?p=1345&newsid=1452.