Remembrance wall gives special thanks to veterans

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Photo credit/ Autumn Granza

Autumn Granza, Community Editor

This year, 6,746 flags waved outside of the Liberal Arts Center on Veterans’ Day, honoring the fallen men and women from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. However, inside the Liberal Arts Center was another tribute that encouraged campus-wide involvement.

 Lauren Williams, director of the Office of Military and Veterans Services, wanted the entire campus to be involved in this year’s Veterans’ Day tributes and reached out to Maria MacDonald, director of undergraduate interior architecture studies, for help.

MacDonald assigned her junior interior architecture class with the task of creating an interactive remembrance wall that would involve the campus and encourage them to leave Thank You notes throughout the piece. She split the class into groups and allowed just two short weeks for completion of the project. The first week was dedicated to creating a design, and the second was used to build the design they created.

“I wanted to get the campus involved,” said Williams. “Last year everyone loved the flags, and I wanted to have something that connected the campus back to Veterans’ Day. The remembrance gives them that option.”

Once the groups came up with a design, they gave a formal presentation to Marywood veterans. Out of five designs presented, the veterans chose the one that they wanted created on a large scale. The winning group consisted of junior interior architecture majors Jude Saforo, Jennifer Mosley, Ashley Zalewski, and Zach Thompson. The students built the remembrance wall and erected it overnight on their own time.

“When designing the structure, we focused more on experience than appearance,” said Mosley. “We wanted to take the Rotunda, which is a huge space, and make a more private space for reflection and thought.”

The veterans chose a collapsible panel that forms the shape of a star as the winning entry. The panel was made out of birch veneer plywood and was hinged together. Each branch of the military is represented on the star by Plexiglas shields.

“Inspiration for the star comes from military strength,” said Thompson. “The five points on the star represent the five branches of our military.”

“The slope in the structure represents the rise in courage and dedication our military personnel give to our country,” added Mosley.

The interior of the star was open and visitors could enter the star and write a personal message on paper to the veterans or thank those that are currently serving. The use of paper would allow the wall to be reusable year after year.

“After completing the structure and the pain and long nights we went through to put it together, it made us realize that it was nothing compared to what our military men and women go through for us,” said Saforo.

The structure remained on display in the shape of a star from Nov. 4-10. On Veterans’ Day the star was made into a panel so the handwritten messages could be seen.

“I am incredibly proud of the respect that the students show the veterans,” said MacDonald. “ It was our honor to create this for them.”

“Being a part of this was a great experience,” said Zalewski. “I am thankful to have done something to show appreciation for all that the veterans have done for us.”

This year’s winning memorial will be used year after year.