Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing Editor
Last Christmas, an idea began. This semester, it will be a reality.
The idea was a new veteran’s memorial and it is in the process of being built in front of the Strebel Student Center.
According to the book “Pioneering Generations: The Utica College Story, 1946-1996,” Utica College was -and is – a success story of a major university’s desire to help a neighboring city and a community’s pledge to its returning war veterans and their families. The pledge was simple; the Mohawk Valley wanted veterans to stay, acquire an education and get on with their lives.
Senior and construction management major and SGA president Michael Delia is leading the project. As part of the Student Contractors Association Delia, as well as the other members of the SCA e-board came up with the idea.
Delia said the project began with an idea, moved onto a design, then an estimate was put together, which was followed by a proposal to the college.
“I think that since the college was founded for veterans back in 1946 following the war, it has been a long time coming that we honor our veterans in such a way,” he said. “They gave so much and more often than not, they gave everything to defend this nation regardless of politics, religion, race, etc. They deserve it.”
Delia said the planning process is going well so far.
“With any project you have accomplishments and setbacks but overall we are moving right along and look forward to the completion of this memorial,” he said.
Delia said the goal is to finish the project by the end of October, but it will be done by the memorial dedication that will take place on Nov. 8.
“To have something like this to honor all the veterans who have walked this campus come into fruition close to 75 years after the college was founded is great for the college, in my opinion,” Delia said.
Senior and nursing major Ryan McCauley was a member of the United States Marine Corps and has been out of the service for five years. He was also one of the founding members of the Utica College Student Veterans of America and is currently the vice president.
He said the only flagpole on campus is hidden behind a tree in the White Hall Circle. Him and others wondered why there were not any other flagpoles on campus.
“We figured the most visual spot for a flagpole would be in front of Strebel,” McCauley said. It originally started off as we wanted more flagpoles, but it turned into wanting a Veteran’s memorial. We are making it a visual symbol to show that this school is for veterans.”
McCauley said the process to get this plan approved has been tedious. He said it took multiple times going through the chain of administration, as well as many other steps, such as having facilities look at it.
“The process could have been handled faster,” McCaughley said. “The plans were pretty drawn out and pretty accurate already. All we had to do in reality was proposed the plan, show how deep it was going to be, how it would look, where it was going to be, and that honestly shouldn’t have taken as long as some of the other projects on this campus that were pushed through a lot faster.”
McCauley said the memorial will be incorporated in future September 11 services that are held every year in front of Strebel.
“A lot of them were confused about the beginning of the project because they didn’t realize what was going on […],” McCauley said.
“I don’t think the student body will mind the memorial at all [..] because there are a lot of students who have veterans in their family. We are a veteran’s school, so why can’t we show it all year round?”
Senior and criminal justice major Betrece Braham was one of the students walking by the construction who wanted to know more about it. She said she is curious to see what the final project will turn out looking like.
“The memorial is a good idea, and it’s long overdue,” Braham said. “I am curious to see how it will play into the 9/11 ceremony next year.”
Braham also stated that it adds another touch to the school.
“We also have one of the best criminal justice programs in the country,” Braham said. “So I’m not sure why at least more flags were added.”
The dedication of the memorial will take place on Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in front of Strebel.