Sunday, September 27, 2009

Magna Cum Laude In Deed

The University of Washington will honor eight Medal of Honor recipients who are also UW alumni with a new, prominent memorial to be dedicated this Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

University research indicates that the UW has more Medal of Honor recipients among its alumni than any other public university outside the service academies.

The memorial will be a permanent, powerful reminder of the extraordinary things that can happen when ordinary people take action, UW President Mark Emmert said.

Members of the armed forces, both active and retired, as well as the general public are encouraged to attend the dedication. Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. with a parade down Memorial Way that will include bands, veterans groups and a military color guard.

Entirely funded by private contributions, the $152,000 monument will be near two existing war memorials. The first, Memorial Way, begins at the Northeast 45th Street entrance to the university and was created with 58 London Plane Trees honoring UW faculty, students and alumni who died in World War I. At the end of Memorial Way, just beyond the traffic circle where the Medal of Honor memorial will be, is the campus flagpole bearing names of faculty, staff, students and alumni who died in World War II.

Mike Magrath, a UW visiting scholar in sculpture and public art, led the team that designed the monument. It includes Heidi Wastweet, a Seattle sculptor, and Dodi Fredericks, a landscape architect.

Their design will be anchored by a five-point star, similar to the medal star, inset into the traffic circle. At the north point of the circle will be the book stone. On the exterior, it’s a plain serpentine stone that sat for years, largely ignored, outside the UW sculpture studio on lower campus. But split open like a book and polished, Wastweet said, the stone glows like ordinary people courageous enough to do something extraordinary for their fellow human beings.

The book stone includes each Medal of Honor recipient’s name, rank, award year and years at UW. A basalt column in front of the stone will feature the face of Minerva, goddess of both wisdom and war also pictured on the medal. We want to inspire students who walk around and through the memorial, Wastweet said. We want them to think that if these alumni could do extraordinary feats, then they can, too.

Near those main rocks will be four sentinel stones surrounding one with bronze wording from the recipients’ Medal citations. We found that no image was as powerful as details of what those men did, Wastweet said.

Since 1862, when the Medal of Honor was first awarded, more than 3,467 U.S. soldiers have received it, at least 620 posthumously.

The UW memorial grew out of a Student Senate motion that set aside a proposed memorial to UW alumnus Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. The Student Senate favored a memorial recognizing all UW Medal of Honor recipients.

The other seven UW alumni who have received the medal are:
Deming Bronson, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Robert E. Galer, Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps
Bruce Crandall, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
John D. "Bud" Hawk, Sergeant, U.S. Army
Robert Leisy, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army
William Kenzo Nakamura, Private First Class, U.S. Army
Archie Van Winkle, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps

Funding for the memorial included a match program with TriWest Healthcare Alliance and the Bruce and Jolene McCaw Family Foundation.

The monument honors those who fought not for medals but to save the lives of their comrades. Their courage and selflessness reflects the American spirit, said David J. McIntyre Jr., president and chief executive officer of TriWest.

For more information about the memorial, visit here.

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