The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will celebrate the start of construction on its Veterans’ Tribute project with a 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 ceremony at the Pershing Military and Naval Science Building, 1360 Vine St.
The event will be available via livestream and recorded. It will include presentations by Chancellor Ronnie Green; Ted Carter, University of Nebraska system president; Robert Schafer, NU regent; Maj. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard; Margaret Parker, an Army ROTC cadet and junior pre-health major; and Nate Perry, project manager with Facilities Planning and Construction.
The Veterans’ Tribute project will create a reflection area along Vine Street, from the steps of the Military and Naval Science Building to the Coliseum. The $3.75 million project is part of an ongoing, multi-phase upgrade of the mall immediately east of Memorial Stadium. This upgrade further complements Memorial Mall and Memorial Stadium, both also built in honor of veterans.
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.
In consultation with a Veterans’ Tribute committee, the university is finalizing project design, which includes stories from veterans and their family members for possible inclusion on the panels within the site. More than 900 quotes have been submitted for the tribute. All of the submissions — including those not selected for inclusion in the site design — will be held in the University Archives and Special Collections for future reflection and potential publication.
“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, indicating that military service is universal, and illustrate the many multiple positive attributes of serving in the military.”
The design will feature glass panels, similar to those featured in the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. The university’s 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 military service entails.
The project will also upgrade the entrance to the Pershing Military and Naval Science Building, reconfiguring steps and concrete to create a chevron-like design (when viewed from above). The updated space will allow for military and other ceremonies, particularly those for the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Steps to the building 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 reflection 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.
Bohac, a Husker alumnus, said he and other veterans look forward to the completion of the Veterans’ Tribute project.
“As a veteran, I am particularly pleased that the University of Nebraska–Lincoln continues to enhance its focus on military service,” Bohac said. “In this space, all can come and reflect on their own service and the service of others. It will be a place to learn and to pause and give thanks in whatever form that might take.”
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 Memorial Mall.
Donations for the Veterans’ Tribute project can be made through the University of Nebraska Foundation.