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Friday, June 24, 2022

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ROTC students stand solemnly after laying wreaths at the base of the War Memorial. ROTC students stand solemnly after laying wreaths at the base of the War Memorial.
 


Ceremony Remembers the Fallen

The annual War Memorial Ceremony was held at a new location for the first time in the monument's history.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

Every year since SDSU’s War Memorial was dedicated in 1996, the annual War Memorial Ceremony has been held on Aztec Green at the base of the monument. This year, the 15th annual observance was forced away from the monument by construction of the new Aztec student union.

New location

More than 100 observers and participants gathered near the SDSU Trolley station at the lower end of Aztec Green for the Friday morning ceremony. The granite obelisk looming on the hill above created a dramatic backdrop for the speeches, readings and musical performances that mark the yearly tribute to Aztecs who have died in service during conflicts involving the United States military.

“I understand the disappointment of not being as close to the memorial as we would like to have been, but I thought it went very well," said SDSU Alumni Association President Jeff Marston (’77).  "Sitting in the audience you're looking at the beautiful green and you're looking up at the memorial. I thought it was a terrific setting.”

Remembering Aztecs' sacrifice

In keeping with the tradition of the ceremony, several wreaths were laid at the monument’s base while the Navy Band Southwest Ceremonial Band played.  After “Taps” was performed by a pair of trumpeters, a flyover by a single vintage aircraft concluded the ceremony.

Among the featured speakers for the event was new SDSU president Elliot Hirshman, attending his first campus War Memorial Ceremony. The president said he found the observance to be inspiring and the themes contained in the remarks of fellow speakers to be motivating to a campus supporting more than 1,000 student veterans.

“There’s been a challenging history sometimes  between universities and the military and I think what San Diego State recognizes is how essential the military is to protecting our freedom and moving our society forward,” Hirshman observed.

“That's why we embrace those who have served and we want to support them as they come home.”

Other event speakers included:

  • John Morales, Student Veteran Organization
  • Rev. J.D. Smith III
  • Jocelyne Erkenbeck, member, War Memorial Committee
  • Tom Richards, chair, War Memorial Committee
  • Jeff Marston, president, SDSU Alumni Association
  • Nathaniel Donnelly, president, Student Veteran Organization
  • Rear Adm. Robert J. Kamensky
  • Nathan Fletcher, member, California State Assembly

Preceding vigil

The annual morning ceremony was preceded by an overnight vigil at the War Memorial. It began Thursday evening when dozens of ROTC students, student veterans, alumni veterans, active-duty military members and other volunteers began standing a rotating watch. 

At the conclusion of the War Memorial Ceremony, a public reception was held at the Veterans House on campus.


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