SXU Holds Veterans Memorial Dedication
Saint Xavier University (SXU) recently held a dedication for the campus's Veterans Memorial, a site that honors the military branches of the United States and the veterans who served the nation and defended our freedom. Over 80 attendees, including community members; the local fire department; members of American Legion Post 986; members of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 991; faculty and staff; and Student Veterans Alliance (SVA) members both past and present, came together for the ceremony.
Ground broke for the memorial in 2018 after Dan McLaughlin '19, veteran of the United States Marine Corps and president of SVA at the time, came up with the idea as a way to give back to the community and fellow veterans. Through their fundraising efforts, the monument was constructed adjacent to Lake Marion and acknowledges and honors those who have served the United States in periods of both war and peace. Located in front of an American flag and POW flag, the memorial features a fallen soldier design, consisting of an inverted rifle, boots, dog tag and helmet, representing what the soldier stood for and signifying their battle is now over.
McLaughlin offered a speech during the dedication that thanked veterans and all who made the memorial possible.
"We gather today in memory of those who've paid the ultimate sacrifice. This moment represents each name forged in bronze casting and the love for their families, friends, ones they endured with on the battlefield, and most importantly, their love for this country," said McLaughlin during his speech.
Oak Lawn Mayor Terry Vorderer was also in attendance and spoke at the event, where he thanked Saint Xavier for seeing the value in building a memorial that remembered the men and women who have given their lives defending the freedom of this country.
SXU alumni and SVA members presented the colors, a ceremony that marks the presentation or retirement of a flag. Jenny DeVivo, Ph.D., director of Mission and Heritage, led the invocation and the SXU Chamber Singers were present to sing the National Anthem. Taps and a rifle salute were completed by American Legion Post members.
"This memorial helps us pay our respects to those who served our country, to the service members who had to endure the ugly so our families and country can remain free, to the fallen service members who didn't make it back home to their families, and to our fellow brother, Konrad Miltko, who passed away September 24. We have the support from SXU for a safe place on campus to connect with them," said Karmalitah Sylvester, president of SVA.
After the ceremony, a tailgate to honor veterans was held at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field, where attendees enjoyed each other’s company and Cougar football. Veterans were brought out into the field at halftime to be recognized by attending Cougar fans. Many community members found the day to be a beautiful tribute to veterans and hope this will become an SXU tradition.
SXU is grateful for its student veterans and veteran community members and is dedicated to supporting them through a variety of programs and resources. Visit the SXU website to learn more about the SVA, Yellow Ribbon Program, Valor Project and Military Friendly® designation.