Former veterans honored with ceremony

by Staff

Antonio Zaragoza / Staff Photographer

By Antonio Zaragoza, Contributor

The SDSU Alumni Association’s War Memorial Committee, along with students, faculty and dignitaries, commemorated the 14th annual War Memorial wreath-laying ceremony at the Veterans Memorial obelisk on campus last Friday. The event is held annually during homecoming festivities.

The SDSU ROTC Honor Guard, with the direction of Col. Martin Wojtysiak, provided military honors at the event. Among the presenters at the ceremony were graduate student and the president of the Student Veterans Organization, Ericka Korb; USMC Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson; Undersecretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs Rocky Chavez and Lt. Col. Tom Richards of the War Memorial Committee.

“More than anything, this memorial brings honor to all the people who attended this university and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country; and to make sure we never forget it,” Jackson, also a guest speaker at the event said. Also in attendance were alumni who served in WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

Preceding the event was a candlelight vigil sponsored by the Student Veteran Organization and organized by Mark Daemon and members of the SVO. The vigil, which began last Thursday afternoon, consisted of student veterans and cadets of the ROTC standing at the memorial throughout the night until the morning of the event.

“The vigil encompassed a more physical type of remembrance; the ceremony is very good and honorable but it’s kind of intangible so this a way that we can get many students, faculty and staff out here to really be a part of it and pay homage to the soldiers,” Marcus Ziemke, the vice president of the Student Veteran Organization said.

The War Memorial was dedicated in 1996 and was funded by the Alumni Association’s War Memorial Committee. The memorial is a 25-foot obelisk made of white granite and designed by former art professor, Jesus Dominguez. The obelisk has three sides and is broken and jagged at the top, symbolizing “untimely death.” SDSU is one of the few campuses in the country that has a memorial honoring those who attended a university and lost their lives in military conflict.

“One of the major concerns of the veterans who started this project was whether future students would continue to maintain support for the memorial and it’s been an incredible honor to see this commemoration over the years,” SDSU President Stephen L. Weber, who is considered a champion of veteran affairs and veteran programming at SDSU said.

A military flyby was also scheduled for the event but was canceled because of weather constraints. Cadets from the Air Force ROTC were on hand to usher guests.

“It was very moving seeing the family and friends of SDSU students who gave their lives in the war,” Cadet Capt. Evelyn Oehmke said.  “I am now more proud and excited to be going into the military to serve our country.”

The SDSU choir sang during the ceremony and music was performed by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band