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Missouri rededicates memorial to WWI veterans

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — For decades, University of Missouri students who walked through the Memorial Union arches tipped their hats as a show of respect to the school’s war dead. In more recent years, that campus tradition was all but forgotten.

On Friday, school leaders took a step toward reconnecting Missouri’s 30,000-plus students with their patriotic forbears, unveiling a restored memorial to World War I veterans during a campus Veterans Day ceremony that capped a week’s worth of lectures and other events recognizing campus members who serve their country.

“It’s truly a symbolic tribute to all who have served here at the University of Missouri,” chancellor Brady Deaton told a crowd of nearly 200 students, campus employees and local veterans at the outdoor ceremony.

The American War Mothers’ Memorial honors the 117 University of Missouri students killed during World War I, whose names are also inscribed in the archways of Memorial Union, a campus student center. The war mothers’ memorial originally was dedicated in 1930 but removed in 1987 for a Rollins Street widening project.

“When the calls of their country came, they answered bravely, heroically,” reads an inscription beside the new memorial attributed to a soldier’s mother who spoke at the 1930 commemoration. “They died that we might live, and that their country preserve their ideals.”

Deaton described how the original memorial was planted near Brewer Fieldhouse in soil taken from the campuses of 48 state universities and seven other countries. The relocated memorial stone is framed by seven red maple trees along a campus walkway just east of Memorial Union.

Dan Sewell, an Afghanistan war veteran and 2010 Missouri graduate now enrolled in the school’s Trulaske College of Business, appealed to other student veterans to build upon their military service, on campus and beyond.

“We have a responsibility to continue to serve each other and our nation as school teachers, scientists, engineers, lawyers and doctors, business leaders and yes, even politicians,” he said.

“This great country was built up on the backs of our returning veterans,’ Sewell added. “And it will be built back up and turned around by us again.”

The memorial unveiling was followed by a wreath laying ceremony beneath the Memorial Union tower, a Veterans Day tradition that had also flagged at the university until its return several years ago.

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