MU honors veterans with memorial rededication, wreath-laying ceremonies

Both events were held at Memorial Union to commemorate members of the Armed Forces.
Student veteran Dan Sewell speaks at the Veteran's Wreath Laying Ceremony on Friday at Memorial Union. He shared his story of serving in the military and the transition to being a student at MU.

Students and community members gathered to recognize members of the United States Armed Forces with two ceremonies at noon Friday east of Memorial Union.

Veterans, students and members of the community surrounded the American War Mothers's Memorial for its rededication. Following the entrance of the color guard and the singing of the national anthem, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Gary Ward gave a brief history of the memorial.

Originally located on Rollins Street, the stone and a row of seven red maple trees were dedicated Oct. 25, 1930, to the 117 MU students who died during World War I. MU moved the memorial after the street was widened in 1987 because the area could no longer accommodate a row of trees.

Chancellor Brady Deaton then elaborated on the memorial's history, saying the site was fitting because the veterans spent so many happy hours at MU.

"It was hallowed ground for them, and it remains hallowed ground for all of us," he said.

Brady also said Memorial Union was a symbol for students who lost their lives in World War I. The 117 names are etched into the wall under the archway, and as a symbol of respect, tipping or removing one's hat when entering the archway has become a campus tradition. He said he pledged to tip his hat when he entered the archway and encouraged others to do the same.

Lt. Col. Wayne Doherty said he agrees with Memorial Union's symbolism.

"Memorial Union is such a fitting tribute to all those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who have served," he said.

After American War Mothers National President Nelda Bleckler and Deaton uncovered the stone, MU's color guard led bystanders to Memorial Tower for the Veterans' Wreath Laying Ceremony.

MU Student Union Programming Board President Michelle Kuchs introduced the annual event. She said MU continues to lay wreaths each year in honor of students, faculty, staff and alumni who served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces.

U.S. Air Force veteran Dan Sewell spoke about his transition from the battlefield to the classroom. He said the struggles he experienced caused him to question his decision to leave the military, but after talking with other MU student veterans, he gained the motivation to work through them to reach his higher education goals.

He said veterans do not stop serving others after they leave the service or MU because they continue to serve through their career choices.

During the conclusion of the ceremony, a wreath was laid in the center of the archway while "Taps" played.

Sophomore Melanie Mazuc said watching the wreath-laying ceremony was her favorite part of the two ceremonies.

"I just thought it was really beautiful," she said.

Student Sustainability Adviser Ben Datema said he thinks honoring veterans is important because of the amount of work they put into serving their country.

"They alter their whole lives so that they can get the job done and do whatever needs to be done, so I think it's important to have things like this to bring that sacrifice and dedication to mind," he said.

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