A new memorial commemorating the World War I service of Nebraskans and University of Nebraska students was dedicated during a Nov. 11 ceremony at Gate 20 of Memorial Stadium.
The event celebrated the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which marked the cessation of hostilities in World War I. Armistice Day grew to become Veterans Day to recognize the service of all who have served in the armed forces. The dedication capped University of Nebraska–Lincoln activities that recognized military service members and veterans during the week of Veterans Day.
Events included multiple salutes to veterans during the Nov. 10 football game between the Huskers and University of Illinois. Activities continue this week with the student-led Things They Carry Ruck March, an event designed to raise awareness about military suicides.
More than 350 veterans and guests packed the entrance at Gate 20 and enjoyed performances by the Nebraska National Guard's 43rd Army Band; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Pershing Rifles; and the university Naval ROTC Detachment Color Guard.
Students in the color guard wore World War I-period uniforms and stood at attention throughout the 30-minute program. Click the image below to see a photo story from the dedication.
The event began with a welcome from Doug Carlson, government relations officer with the Nebraska National Guard. Other speakers included Chancellor Ronnie Green; University of Nebraska Board of Regents Chairman Robert Schafer, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Nebraska Air National Guard; Major General Daryl Bohac, adjutant general of Nebraska; and Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos.
At the conclusion of the ceremony and before the playing of Taps, Green revealed the design of a veteran’s tribute area planned near Nebraska’s Pershing Military and Naval Science Building. The university consulted with an advisory group of about 30 military stakeholders in developing the plan for the tribute area.
The World War I display at Gate 20 includes three plaques. Two World War I plaques are installed on each side of the stadium’s original entrance, Gate 20 inside the stadium’s east concourse.
One 9-foot by 5-foot plaque pays tribute to all Nebraskans who served in World War I including General John J. Pershing. The other matching plaque includes the names of 113 Nebraska students who enrolled at the university and signed up to participate in World War I. The student list includes 10 Husker letterwinners.
Pershing, a former University of Nebraska faculty member and graduate, served as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. He was named the General of the Armies of the United States of America, the highest rank possible in the United States Army. The rank has been held only twice in the nation's history — once by Pershing while on active duty, and by a 1976 posthumous promotion for George Washington.
The third plaque noted the dedication date and thanked all those who provided input to the content of the displays including: 1921 War Department Report to the U.S. Congress; 1939 Historical Annual, National Guard of the State of Nebraska; Nebraska National Guard; and University of Nebraska resources (Archives and Special Collections, Military and Veteran Success Center and the Office of University Registrar).
Attending the event were many distinguished guests including artist Joe Putjenter, who designed the plaques; Shawn Concannon, creator and director of 48 Stars, who loaned the university several 48-star flags which are from the World War I period; and approximately 100 veterans.