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Hackney installed heating systems for his father's business before beginning classes at Community College of Philadelphia. Eventually, though, he found his passion: teaching math.

Protesters from Philadelphia colleges took part in Thursday's "Million Student March."

Across the city, ceremonies marked Nov. 11, the day the nation shows its appreciation for those who serve and have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

At Community College of Philadelphia, Craig L. Adams, a veteran who is executive vice president of Exelon and president and CEO of PECO, joined the College community in honoring these heroes for their commitment to duty, honor and country.

A U.S. Army veteran and a community college graduate, Adams shared the story of 92-year-old Herschel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, a retired United States Marine who is the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Heroes like Williams don’t wake up every day thinking about the medal they have earned, Adams told the crowd gathered outside the Veterans Resource Center in the Bonnell Building. Rather, they reflect on a more universal and everlasting reward — “the wonderful gift called freedom.”

Before a packed ceremony of students, faculty and staff, the College paused to recognize the men, women and children whose sacrifices preserve our freedoms.

“We cannot take the freedoms that we enjoy for granted,” said Dr. Donald Guy Generals. “Veterans need your support but, more importantly, they need your love and thanks for their service and sacrifice to the country.”

After Adams returned from military service, he did not let go of his sense of duty to his fellow veterans. Under his leadership, PECO has provided $400,000 in support of veterans’ organizations that help homeless vets. And in 2014, Exelon hired over 650 veterans under its Diversity & Inclusion program. PECO also established the PECO/Exelon Veterans Training and Employment Program, which provides veterans with the skills they need to succeed in a civilian workplace.

Jason Mays, an alumnus and a veteran who was twice elected Student Government Association president at the College, returned to campus to speak at this year’s ceremony. “This day means a lot to me,” said Mays, who now attends Temple University and serves as president of the Temple Veterans Association. He plans a career in business analytics.

Mays, who served and was wounded in the Iraq War, re-established the Student Veterans Club at Community College of Philadelphia and helped launch the first ever Philadelphia Veterans Day Parade.

“Take some time to reflect on what this day means to you,” Mays said.

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#MillionStudentMarch activists want their demands met now — free college, the dissolution of all existing college debt, and a $15 per hour minimum wage for campus workers

The reason for the change in Gardot's performance style is partly a physical one. At 19, while studying fashion at the Community College of Philadelphia, she was knocked off her bicycle by a Jeep.

Students from Drexel, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, the Community College of Philadelphia and area high schools are marching from their respective school to City Hall.

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