NU unveils veteran’s memorial

By Megan Jicha

As the nation paused to remember its fallen heroes on Veterans Day, Northeastern paid tribute to 300 of its deceased with a dedication ceremony for the university’s new veterans memorial.

The unveiling ceremony took place at the memorial’s site, 120 Forsyth St.

“This university embraces veterans, armed forces and service to the nation,” said Northeastern President Joseph Aoun.

Neal Finnegan, chairman of the board of trustees; Vice Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, Northeastern alumnus and commander of the U.S. Second Fleet and director of the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea and Center of Excellence; and Richard Egan, Northeastern alumnus, founder of EMC Corporation and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, also spoke.

“[With this memorial] we honor those giving service with honor [and] remember all who have served throughout Northeastern’s history,” Fitzgerald said.

After the opening remarks, Egan read a short history of Northeastern and its students’ involvement in the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. With each war synopsis, a Northeastern ROTC cadet or veteran alumnus placed a wreath at the front of the memorial and read a short profile of one of that war’s fallen students.

The ceremony closed with the lowering of the flag and a performance of “America the Beautiful” and “Taps” by the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast.

George Thrush, faculty chair of the School of Architecture, said about 500 people attended, including veteran alumni, family and friends of those honored by the memorial and Northeastern faculty, staff and students.

“Five people I knew are on [the memorial],” said Bill Maloney, alumnus and treasurer of ROTC Alumni Society. “It is great to see them and others who served honored.”

The memorial’s design was created by three Northeastern alumni – Mo Zell, Marc Roehrle and Steve Fellmeth.

It consists of a black granite wall with steel plates resembling dog tags bearing each fallen students’ name, rank, hometown, birth date, death date, place of death, department at Northeastern and graduation year.

At the front of the memorial is a long bench where, Zell said, “students can socialize and not feel as if they are invading the memorial itself.”

At the back of the memorial, where the dog tags are displayed, is “a congregational area for reflection,” Zell said. 13 stripes and 50 lights on the ground abstractly portrays the American flag.

The idea for a veteran’s memorial came from the board of trustees, who wanted to do more to remember “all fallen heroes, especially fallen Huskies,” Finnegan said.

After receiving the submissions, a judging panel viewed each submission without names and searched for the most architecturally sound design, Thrush said.

“It’s funny that Northeastern alumni’s design would be chosen out of all the submissions,” he said.

With a ground-breaking ceremony on Flag Day in June, the memorial took about five months to complete.

“It is a relief [the memorial] turned out nicely,” Roehrle said. “The ceremony was beautiful. It was nice to remove myself from the wall and focus on the names on the wall because it is what the memorial represents that is important.”