Two special events occurred during the 2011 reunion weekend. The first was a celebration of Niagara’s ROTC program through the ages entitled “Pantheon of Niagara Warriors.” It was recognition of the great contribution Niagara made over the years by providing well-educated and trained commissioned officers and military volunteers to serve their country and support her national political and military goals. It recognized the hundreds of Niagara graduates trained and capable of fulfilling that role.
In another realm it was the culminating event of the idea of one graduate to institutionalize the celebration of Niagara’s contribution to national security represented by the War Memorial established on campus in 2001.
Over 85 graduates from 15 different classes participated in the event, which was highlighted by presentation by the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Niagara’s president, of the President’s Medal to Maj. Gen. Vincent Boles, ’76, and the general’s remarks as guest speaker to the assembled group. Gen. Boles is the highest ranking officer to date to graduate from our university through the ROTC program. He set a wonderful example to all, especially to the young cadets present at the ceremony, with his remarks.
Also on Saturday, another event of great importance occurred and went mostly unnoticed by the reunion participants. It was the Class of ’61 and compatriots conducting a beautiful ceremony at the War Memorial site with the mounting of the plaque designating all class members who served in the military from the classes of 1961 – 1975.
The two events, taken together, represent a worthy acknowledgement of the university and the Department of Military Science’s efforts in producing so many outstanding young men and women who willingly served their country when called.
My comrades and I from the distant past believe this contribution is so great that every class not now represented should become involved and step forward with their individual recognition of service. We ask the class presidents from the classes of 1976 – present to start the process of commissioning a class plaque on “The Wall.”
You will be glad that you did. John Fielding, ’61 (email@example.com), who led the latest effort, and the Department of Military Science stand ready to assist in explaining how to collect the necessary information: Who was commissioned? Who was called to serve in the military or diplomatic service or comparable federal service? Where can a bronze plaque be created? Then establish a timeline so that the class or group of classes can have their own ceremony during their next reunion.
Should you accept this challenge, we will complete the goal established by the Class of ’51 and its project manager, 1st Lt. Jack Mitchell (Ret.) in creating the memorial, which was first established to commemorate Niagara’s contribution to the Korean War. But history has forced us to take a lead role in international affairs and I the commitment of armed forces repeatedly to help bring peace and security and order to our world. It was only right and necessary to expand the significance of the Korean War Memorial, to expand its coverage and represent our university graduates’ contributions to national security as an all-encompassing War Memorial. The Class of 1961 stepped forward this past October and started our representation in the Vietnam War era.
Let’s not waste any more time. Let’s bring all the classes with commissioned officer graduates and other graduates with military or diplomatic service from 1976 to the present to The Wall. We hope and pray that the classes not represented will come to see the value of being represented on The Wall and join us. My classmates and associates from the past are eager to “pass the baton” to the next generation of “warriors” who have represented our university so well.
On behalf of all who worked so hard to create this memorial, I urge you to join us on The Wall.