W. Kent Davis, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, on Monday urged Troy University graduates to look to past heroes for inspiration as they go out to make a difference in the world.
Speaking to around 100 graduates from TROY’s Montgomery Campus participating in Monday night’s fall commencement ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa Convention Center, Davis offered a “verbal walking tour” of historic sites located only blocks away in downtown Montgomery.
Remembering the Alabama soldiers whose valor on the battlefield helped propel the Rainbow Division to success in World War I, the nurses who returned from war only to wage battle against the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 at St. Margaret’s Hospital, and Civil Rights icons such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., Davis urged graduates to draw lessons from the past.
“Despite the tough times they endured and the courage they all displayed, these diverse heroes are all powerful examples from the past and they are important,” he said. “It is important to remember these heroes and to know today that we have been here before. If the historic examples teach us one thing it’s the importance of working together in tough times, of putting aside our relatively petty differences, finding our common ground and working together to overcome adversity and build a better future for everyone.”
The answers for a bright future sometimes come from the past, Davis said.
“So here we are on the verge of 2021. We’re emerging from almost 20 years of wars, a global pandemic and new and important discussions on civil rights,” he said. “These examples from the past show us that you too can make a difference. You too can change the world for the better.”
Davis went on to encourage graduates to always remember the University’s motto – “Educate the mind to think, the heart to feel and the body to act.”
“With the receipt of your diploma tonight, you have clearly educated your mind to think,” he said. “Now, educate your heart to feel and your body to act. If you do that and you think about those heroes who have done the same, you will always be able to find the answer to the question of ‘Where do we all go from here together?’
Davis, a Montgomery native, was appointed as the state’s seventh Commissioner of Veterans Affairs in February 2019. Prior to his appointment, he served as the first Chief Communication Officer for the Commander and President of Air University.
Davis retired from the Navy in 2016 at the rank of Rear Admiral. At the time of his retirement, he served as Vice Chief of Information for the Navy.
Davis also served as Director of Economic Development & External Affairs and City Manager for the city of Anniston, Alabama, and for 14 years in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a senior attorney and executive. Prior to his job with DHS, he worked for two years as an attorney at the distinguished law firm of King & Spalding in Atlanta. Among many other deployments, in 2006 and 2012 he completed lengthy combat zone deployments in conjunction with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In all this fall, the Montgomery Campus awarded 56 associate degrees, 60 bachelor’s degrees, 55 master’s degrees and three Educational Specialist degrees.