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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Wreath-laying ceremony at SDSU War Memorial on Aztec Green. Wreath-laying ceremony at SDSU War Memorial on Aztec Green.

Honoring Veteran Alumni

The annual wreath-laying ceremony takes place on Friday, Oct. 20 at the SDSU War Memorial.
By Tobin Vaughn

Each year during Homecoming Week, San Diego State University hosts a wreath-laying ceremony to honor its veteran alumni who have died in service during the nation’s military conflicts. This year’s event takes place at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, at the campus War Memorial on Aztec Green.

Lisa Shapiro, assistant business professor at Mesa College and author of “No Forgotten Fronts: From Classrooms to Combat,” will deliver the keynote address. The book’s title refers to a quote by the late SDSU professor Lauren Post, who said, “As long as there are Aztecs, there will be no forgotten fronts.”
Post, a popular geography professor at SDSU from 1937 to 1969, received letters from current and former students in military service around the world during World War II. He published them in the Aztec News Letter, which at its height was sent to 3,000 Aztecs at home and abroad.
The SDSU Library has the one-of-a-kind collection of newsletters known as the World War II Servicemen's Correspondence Collection 1941-1945.  It contains 4,848 letters received from servicemen, servicewomen, and their families during World War II.

“Really, really unusual”

In researching her book, Shapiro is believed to be the first person since Post to read each individual letter in the collection, which took her more than two years. In her keynote address, she will discuss the significance of the collection to readers and what the newsletter meant to SDSU students fighting a global war.

“The newsletter itself anchored these young men and women and made them feel remembered,” Shapiro said. “I think Dr. Post intended that. He wanted to let them know, ‘I care about you. I haven't forgotten you. You are important to me and your whole community remembers you. Come home to us.’
“This letter collection is really, really unusual. When you read those personal first-hand accounts, I can only speak for myself, but it changed the way I look at war.”
Dedicated in 1996, the War Memorial was originally intended to serve as a monument to Aztecs who died in service during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, but now includes the names of service members from more recent conflicts. Currently, there are 239 names etched on the face of the granite obelisk.
The wreath-laying ceremony will be followed by a reception at the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center. Both events are open to the public. For more information, please visit