As University of Kansas students walk under the entry arch of the Kansas Memorial Union and look up, they will now see 129 inscribed stars, each representing a Jayhawk who died while serving in World War I.
On Monday, in honor of Veterans Day, University staff held a rededication ceremony for the arch, bringing to light the 129 students and alumni who died in World War I. At 11 p.m., the stars will light up, representing the armistice hour that ended the war. The lights will illuminate every night, representing the lingering light of their sacrifice.
“Those stars will shine, hopefully, eternally from here on out, recognizing that sacrifice for all,” said KU Memorial Union Director David Mucci. “We’re proud and have a sacred obligation to fulfill here.”
The Union was originally built as a memorial to those 129 Jayhawks, and the addition to the arch serves as a rededication to them.
“We undertake this rededication at this arch, emblematic of the Union, and newly constructed in honor of that sacrifice,” said Interim Provost Carl Lejuez.
Lejuez and Scott Pao, president of KU Student Veterans of America, revealed the plaque that will be located on the center column of the entrance to the Union.
“Through this rededication, we again salute all those who serve and sacrifice for our country, now and through the centuries,” Pao said.
On April 30, 1926, the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone at the Union occurred in tribute to those who died in World War I. Nearly 3,000 students, soldiers, faculty and staff, as well as the families of the fallen, attended the ceremony and watched as an honor guard placed a box filled with mementos into the cornerstone, according to the University's website.
During the ceremony, a large service flag adorned the front of the speaker’s platform, containing 3,000 stars commemorating the number of students and alumni who served in the war, with 129 stars in the center.
The sixth floor of the Union pays a full tribute to the 129 Jayhawks, with their portraits as well as further information regarding the memorial.