Inauguration of the Armed Forces Memorial – News

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, officially dedicated the Armed Forces Memorial in honor of the sacrifice of students, faculty, and staff from all campuses in the UT system who died in the line of duty while they were doing their military service in the United States. Thursday’s celebration comes 102 years after 1920 Volunteers began raising money for a campus memorial honoring UT students who lost their lives in World War I.

The flagship university’s Army ROTC Alumni Council picked up where the students left off. The monument includes soldiers from the First World War to the present day who died during military operations of direct combat, training and as a result of national or international acts of terror.

Speaking at the event, Chancellor Donde Plowman said the 365 people honored on the memorial are among the finest examples of the spirit of volunteerism. “I hope this memorial will be an opportunity not only to reflect on the sacrifice of those it honors, but also to remind us of the courage that lies within each of us – and the responsibility we all have to move forward, to lead and light the way for others,” she said.

Although the final monument has yet to arrive on campus, it will be located on the Joe Johnson–John Ward pedestrian mall across from Brown Hall. The dedicated nameplate commemorating the deceased Volunteers is visible on a wooden model. The final design will be highlighted by a 13-ton monolithic sculpture carved from native Tennessee marble. A plaque encrusted with bronze medallions bearing the seal of each branch of the United States Armed Forces will serve as the backdrop for the sculpture. Visitors will see the names of each of UT’s fallen heroes on the sculpture’s tilted surface.

Seven local high school students participated in the ceremony by reenacting the first-person accounts of the service members whose names appear on the memorial. Each represented a different branch of the US military and the conflicts in which they perished.

Retired Lt. Col. Logan Hickman (1980) served as a project officer for the council’s Armed Forces Memorial Committee.

“Today marks 102 years of dedicated effort by the university and its volunteers to perform this act of respect,” he said. “Our success is due in large part to our partnership with the Facilities Services Department, our Board Fundraising Committee, and the hours of research conducted by Cynthia Tinker and the Center for the Study of War and Society.

“The 365 names on the wall have faces, and all faces have stories. The memorial will ensure the continuity of these sacrifices for generations to come.

The Center for the Study of War and Society at UT’s College of Arts and Sciences has conducted extensive research to gather information on who to honor. Tinker, a program coordinator at the center, led the research effort.

“We combed through yearbooks, past alumni magazines as well as past research conducted by the UT Alumni Office and former UT Historian Milton Klein. It’s a painstaking process, but we can’t let these people’s memories slip away.

In addition to the physical memorial, the committee hopes to create a website with photos and biographies of those commemorated.

“There are so many great stories to tell,” said committee member Ben Scott (’83), who researched UT veterans’ biographies. “Each name on the memorial represents a story and a family that has been changed forever.”

CONTACT:

Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375, [email protected])