The moment of epiphany for Myles Martel came during a visit to Storrs in June 2007.
While driving along Route 195 with then-President Philip Austin, he noticed that the flags on the Great Lawn were at half staff.
“I asked Phil why, and he said UConn had just lost another alumnus in Iraq,” says Martel, ’65, a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“I began to wonder whether UConn had a memorial for our fallen alumni. I checked and we didn’t, so I gave impetus to have one erected.”
The result now stands sentry in front of the Wilbur Cross Building, only several hundred yards from the flag poles that triggered the idea.
The Ultimate Sacrifice Memorial is a 10-foot by 5-foot brick wall with a cutout in which hangs a replica of the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. It stands on a granite base.
Beneath the marble headstone, which was drawn from the same quarry that produced the headstones at the Arlington, Va., cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial, is a copper and gold-leaf “eternal flame,” created by Stephen Bradway, an artisan from New Jersey.
The monument is lit at night, with special illumination of the eternal flame.
The memorial will be dedicated Nov. 10 at 11 a.m., during the University’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.
There will also be a flyover by the Connecticut National Guard; music played by the UConn Marching Band; the laying of a memorial wreath; and several brief speeches. The ceremony will close with Taps and the retiring of the colors.
Martel will be one of the speakers.
“There’s a huge number of people – non-alumni and alumni – who have contributed services, materials, labor, and money to make this happen,” says Martel, president and CEO of Martel & Associates, a leadership development and communication company.
|Cadet leaders from UConn’s U.S. Army ROTC cadre were among the first to visit the new Veterans Memorial, which honors University alumni who died while serving in the defense of the United States. The ROTC cadets are (left to right): Cadet Battalion Commander Michael Russo ’08 (CLAS), Cadet Company Commander Keary Salls ’10 (CLAS) and Cadet Battalion Executive Officer Dawn Belden ’09 (PHR). Photo by Lanny Nagler
“And many alumni have contributed to the Veterans Memorial Fund.”
The fund, which will be used to maintain the memorial, will also help researcher Betsy Pittman, an archivist at the Thomas R. Dodd Research Center, dig through volumes of old yearbooks, ledgers, journals, and other material to find the names of UConn alumni who have perished during the nation’s wars.
Pittman said she has already verified the names of 30 alumni who died fighting in World War I and World War II.
She and Martel estimate that up to 200 alumni have died while serving the country. The list will be maintained at the Alumni Center.
Lisa Lewis, executive director of the Alumni Association, says Myles and the committee “put their hearts and souls” into establishing the memorial.
“This is really an appreciation for their fellow classmates and alumni, people they were sitting in class with,” she says.
“They recognized their role in the University and on the world stage, and how extremely valuable it was.”
Donations may be made to The Veterans Memorial Fund at the UConn Foundation, 2390 Alumni Drive, Storrs, CT 06269-3206. Anyone with names of UConn alumni who died during wartime should contact Pittman at Betsy.Pittman@uconn.edu
Masonry and labor for the memorial were donated by Bruce W. Dexter II Inc., a construction firm based in Danielson, and the lighting – also donated – was installed by the Paquette Electric Co. of Pomfret.