A memorial home
Hall of Honor immortalizes Aggie heroes
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
In a reverent, secluded hall of the Memorial Student Center, sunlight illuminates the names of Aggie heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.
The identities — dating from World War I to the War on Terror — are etched in glass punctuating the East end of the Hall of Honor. Mere steps from the standing glass, seven elaborate ornament cases house the Medals of Honor earned by seven former students for valor in combat during World War II.
Luke Altendorf, director of the Memorial Student Center, said this is a change from the original Hall of Honor that only had names of casualties from World Wars I and II.
“What we’re doing is working with the Sanders Corps Center to assure that we’re going to recognize all the Aggies that have died in combat,” Altendorf said.
There are also areas on the glass without inscription, reserved for Aggies who will die in combat in future years.
The improved Hall of Honor is home to the memorial nature of the Memorial Student Center. When designing the building, Altendorf said those involved had to decide what kind of approach to take.
“Do you take the whole building and make it all reverential? And will that damper the celebratory things that happen in this building?” Altendorf said. “Or do you zone so that parts of the building are more somber and reverential versus celebratory.”
Altendorf said the designers accomplished the goal of combining reverence with celebration.
“I think they did a good job trying to make it so that you don’t come in all excited and then take your hat off and be quiet and somber,” Altendorf said.
Ultimately, designers decided to improve the way the MSC houses the seven who received the nation’s highest award for valor.
“Not very many people in the U.S. have ever received the Medal of Honor,” Altendorf said. “These individuals are being recognized in a way that is probably more just to what they did.”
With new memorials, it seemed fitting that the medals themselves added a novel touch. Although the medals are replicas — the authentic medals in possession of the University are housed at the Sanders Corps Center — the ribbons holding the medals are brand new. According to Altendorf, the replicas could not be replaced because the sole provider is the Department of Defense, which meant replacing old ribbons that were damaged while stored in shadow boxes.
Elizabeth Andrasi, MSC president and Class of 2011, said students and visitors may not have known the significance of the old Hall of Honor, but the new one is special.
“Before, people could walk right by and not even notice,” Andrasi said. “[The new hall] catches you off guard. It’s such an incredible honor to receive those honors, and to be able to see their faces and read their stories, students will see that it truly is a part of our Aggie heritage.”
Altendorf said the hall is a reflection of the Bible verse inscribed in front of MSC, which also appears in glass next to the names of the Aggie heroes.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13.