NAPLES, Florida -- Seventy-five years since the deadly Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Ave Maria School of Law marked the infamous day with a ceremony renaming the school’s library the Veterans Memorial Law Library.

Kevin Cieply, president and dean of Ave Maria, officiated at the event that he said aimed at honoring those who had served their country with some paying the ultimate price.

“It is especially significant for us to dedicate and bless the Veterans Memorial Law Library, on the 75th anniversary of the remembrance of Pearl Harbor, and to remember and honor the 2,403 citizens of the United States who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack Dec. 7, 1941,” Cieply said.

Situated on a dozen acres in the Vineyards of Naples, Ave Maria is a Catholic law school that has a student body of more than 250.

Present at the ceremony were nearly 200 students, faculty and supporters who witnessed the unveiling of a Wall of Honor just inside the library’s entrance. With the Iwo Jima Memorial as a background, the Wall has representatives of all four military branches. Below is a glass panel wall where the names of loved ones who served can be inscribed for a $2,500 donation to the school.

Sean Lux, a third-year student at Ave Maria, decided to attend the school when he opted for a career change. 

Lux told the Florida Record, “I didn’t find software engineering fulfilling anymore.” A former Air Force serviceman, Lux left the service in 2000 and came to co-found Collier County Honor Flight in 2013. Desiring to help his community even more, Lux entered the legal profession and remembered hearing “about [Ave Maria] when they moved here” in 2009 from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Asked why he selected Ave Maria, Lux said, “They understand veterans and have a passion for veterans. They understand how hard it can be to transition out of the military.” 

Lux added that his time at Ave Maria has been graced by “incredible professors and I have received a great education.”

Ave Maria has gone to great lengths to assist veterans who wish to enter law. Veteran students eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program will face no tuition fees, which Ave Maria says are less than $40,000 for their time at the school.

 Lux told the Record the school is also planning a “veteran’s clinic to help community veterans with legal issues.”

Cieply is a veteran himself, serving as a judge advocate general (JAG) officer in the Navy. For 2017, Ave Maria will be added to the national list of military friendly schools. 

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