Two years ago, a group of about a dozen people stood on a grassy area between Miami’s Campus Avenue building and Wells Hall at 5 p.m. on Veterans Day and stood at attention for the playing of “Taps” while facing in the general direction of Roudebush Hall, where a flag was flying, although unseen from their location.
They were a group of U.S. military veterans with Miami connections and were looking forward to construction of a Veterans Tribute planned for the spot where they were standing.
It was hoped then it would be in place by Veterans Day last year, but fundraising delayed it by a year.
A formal dedication will be held on Veterans Day this year, Nov. 11, which is probably more appropriate since this year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the World War I Armistice which gave rise to the Veterans Day observance.
The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.
With a central flagpole, this year’s ceremony will have the flag flying in the center of the structure designed to pay tribute to the 8,000 Miami graduates who have served in the country’s military. More than 160 have been killed during service.
The Alumni Veterans Tribute project began five years ago when Rowan Hall, originally built to house the naval ROTC unit became part of the Armstrong Student Center.
Dave Miller (Miami ’60, MBA ’69), David Lawrence (Miami ’64) and a committee of fellow alumni veterans, got the idea started and it soon grew into a broader idea of recognizing those who have served from all five U.S. military branches.
“From the Miamians who marched together to the Oxford train station on their way to fight on each side of the Civil War to an extensive history of graduating U.S. military leaders, Miami has a proud tradition of alumni in military service,” Lawrence said.
Robert Keller (’73) and now retired as university architect, designed the memorial to recognize the military service of Miamians.
It consists of the five design elements:
• Two interwoven and rising spirals represent liberty and justice and wind inward toward an illuminated U.S. flag
• An engraved band of names is located on the spirals of those who were killed in action or missing in action, symbolically placing Miami’s heroes at the foundation of U.S. freedoms
• Inscriptions of the Bill of Rights, military oath, Pledge of Allegiance and Preamble to the Constitution are on the metal cap of the wall
• Quotes from former U.S. Presidents Benjamin Harrison (Miami 1852), Woodrow Wilson and Harry S. Truman and Gen. George S. Patton are included
• The memorial’s footprint that forms a five-pointed star, featuring five entrances that each have a triangular planter box with the seal of one of the military branches
Lawrence hopes the effort honors alumni veterans and, in a meaningful way, engages all those who value the service of Miami’s military veterans.
“This is a salute by Miamians to nearly two centuries of alumni who’ve served — not only the fallen and the historically prominent,” Lawrence said. “This will be an artistically reflective place to express and experience the values and emotions that are stirred while remembering our veterans.”
University spokesperson Claire Wagner said the dedication will also highlight the official opening of a Student Veterans Center located in Wells Hall.
“The center will be open 24/7 for veterans and military-affiliated students,” she said. “It will have laptop computers, printers, a meeting table, a fridge.”
Miami and the Miami University Alumni Association are compiling a searchable database to celebrate the tradition of military service by its alumni, including anyone who attended Miami for at least one semester. Anyone in that category who served in the military or with a member of the family who served in the military, Miami wants to ensure that records of your service and those of your loved ones are up to date.
Participants must opt in for inclusion, which can be done through the alumni Association’s web site.