Utah State University Unveils Memorial Honoring USU Wars and Veterans

Utah State University adds a second War Memorial as its newest addition to public art that can be seen on its main campus in honor of Veteran’s Day. The memorial features three bronze plaques once housed in Old Main prior to the fire in the building in the 1980s. The plaques will now be placed in front of the Military Science building on the west end of Aggie Boulevard and  dedication for the new USU War Memorial will take place at noon, Monday, Nov. 12.

The dedication on Veterans’ Day, also the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War, includes the USU ROTC Color Guard with a Presentation of the Colors with music provided by USU Aggie Marching Band and a welcome by Major Klint Kuhlman who oversees the USU ROTC Army department. Katie Lee-Koven, executive director and chief curator for USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art will provide remarks on the sculpture and plaques, while USU Emeritus History Professor Ross Peterson will make remarks about the long history USU has had in support of war efforts. The ceremony will close with a laying of a memorial wreath, a performance of Taps, the 21 Gun Salute and remarks by Lt. Colonial Steven J. Smith, commander USU Air Force ROTC. Light refreshments will be served. 

Former USU Director of Facilities Operations and Architect Stanley G. Kane, now retired, saw to it that the plaques were preserved. When he retired, he asked Dean Craig Jessop of the Caine College of the Arts, who is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force, to continue storing them with the hopes of these plaques having another life on campus one day. That day has finally come. 

In 2018 the family of renowned sculptor Avard Fairbanks approached Utah State University to discuss donating a bronze sculpture of a WWI Doughboy. “The Victorious American Doughboy” is a 26-inch working model. USU has two Fairbanks sculptures already on campus, the busts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both located in front of Old Main, and with the other WWI and WWII plaques in storage, it was not a hard decision to accept the sculpture.

Once approached by the Fairbanks Family and then learning about the stored plaques Lee-Koven went over to view them with History Department Head and WWI specialist Tammy Proctor, Landscape Architect Jim Huppi and Major Kuhlman. 

“These were the people we needed involved if we were going to make this happen,” Lee-Koven said.

From that point, Huppi developed some designs and eventually came to one that the committee felt was a good scale and something for which they could raise the money. At the same time Proctor and Lee-Koven applied for a $5,000 grant from the State of Utah WWI Commission for the cleaning of the WWI Plaques and installation of the Doughboy sculpture. Once awarded, Lee-Koven knew they had to make the project happen. 

Jessop and Lee-Koven began asking for donations, and in a matter of five months approximately $35,000 was raised. 

Professor Proctor notes the war memorial reminds the community of the pivotal role Utah State University has played in the nation’s defense, both in terms of training of personnel and in the active service of its male and female students.


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