EDINBURG – Former astronaut Col. Michael Edward Fossum took center stage at Edinburg North High School Friday to talk about Veterans Day and to encourage students to pursue a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Fossum, who is a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force said that Veterans Day is a very special time for him and his family.

“Today is the day that we honor veterans for their service to our country. It’s a day when our country is actively engaged around the world,” Fossum said. “My oldest son just returned from his first combat tour in the Middle East. He’s a fighter pilot and spent his nights in Syria for six months.”

Fossum said that Veterans Day is a time that as a nation we recognize all the servicemen and servicewomen for the sacrifice they make for all of us and our country.

“All of the things that we know and appreciate as Americans, the freedoms that we have, the prosperities that we have, is really because of the veterans and the sacrifice they made to keep us free, and to help provide stability in the world,” he said.

Fossum, who is currently the chief operating officer at Texas A&M University at Galveston and a vice president at Texas A&M University, spoke to the students about his growing up in the Rio Grande Valley and his fascination with science, which eventually led him to an experience in space as an astronaut.