The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s longstanding tradition of supporting veterans and military service members is expanding.
University leaders are moving forward with a Veterans’ Tribute project that will create a reflection area from the steps of the Military and Naval Science Building to the Coliseum along Vine Street. The $3.75 million project is part of an ongoing, multi-phase upgrade of the mall immediately east of Memorial Stadium.
The university has launched fundraising for the project through the University of Nebraska Foundation. The project goal is $4.5 million, which will cover construction costs and create an endowment for ongoing maintenance of the space.
“The project design will be military neutral without specific names of service branches or individuals who have served,” said Michelle Waite, assistant to the chancellor for government and military relations. “It will treat the military branches as one family and illustrate multiple positive attributes of serving in the military.”
The tentative design will embody the concept of glass panels featured in the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. The campus panels will illustrate the multiple facets of a service member’s life, including the importance of family, faith and camaraderie, while also depicting the personal sacrifice that military service entails.
The entrance to the Military and Naval Science Building will be upgraded, reconfiguring steps and concrete to create a chevron-like design (when viewed from above) in a space that will allow for ROTC and other campus ceremonies. The steps will highlight engraved words that reflect what it means to serve in the military.
“There will also be trees, seating and landscaping that will create a serene place on campus for reflecting and remembering,” Waite said.
The tribute space will be used for education, reflection, rest and study. It will also be a highly-trafficked space as fans approach Memorial Stadium — which itself was built to honor veterans — on Husker football games.
“This is going to be a critical space in the heart of campus, showing the university’s values and its commitment to telling the story of our military-connected students, faculty, staff, alumni and public,” said Joe Brownell, director of the university’s Military and Veteran Success Center.
The project was developed to complement the addition of plaques honoring students of the university who served in World War I. The plaques were added to the interior of Memorial Stadium, at Gate 20, and unveiled during a 2018 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
A committee that featured more than 20 stakeholders representing university students, campus ROTC programs, military organizations and veterans developed the plans for the veterans’ tribute on the Memorial Stadium mall.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2020.
Donations for the Veterans’ Tribute project can be made through the University of Nebraska Foundation.