United States Navy Reserve Captain H.A. “Nick” Nichols ’79 spoke at the annual Veterans Day gathering in Woolwich, Maine, Nov. 11, recalling his experience joining the U.S. Navy in 1979 and how perceptions of the armed forces changed over the ensuing decades, especially with the wave of newfound patriotism in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Nichols joined the Navy after graduating from Colby, a decision that, at first, was not met with enthusiasm. “Back then, [joining the service] wasn’t something people smiled on,” he said. “People didn’t think too highly of it, in fact. A lot of folks graduated from college and went off to work, or off to grad school,” he said. “But serving my country was always something that was important to me.”