First annual Veteran’s Memorial ceremony commemorates 100th anniversary of WWI armistice

Katherine Kromer, Staff Writer

Individuals around the globe gathered this weekend to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice. On Nov. 11, members of the University community gathered in the memorial garden behind Rooke Chapel to pay tribute to the University members who served in World War I, in addition to the University veterans who have served in wars since.

Associate Professor of History David Del Testa started off the ceremony with opening remarks. Del Testa spearheads the “Bucknellians in World War I” research project, which over the past two years, has sought to uncover stories of the 718 University members who served in World War I, including the 40 who died at war. Members of the project have gone on two research trips to Europe, with the most recent trip having been over this past fall break.

Julia Carita ’20, a student researcher for the project, reflected on the significance of the most recent research trip. “This October, we were able to make our second memorial trip to France, and we were able to visit the graves of the Bucknellians who are still interred in military cemeteries abroad. It was incredibly powerful to visit them, to remember them, and to thank them for making that sacrifice,” Carita said.

Immediately following Del Testa’s opening remarks, members of Bison Battalion Army ROTC presented the colors.

President John Bravman also spoke about the importance of studying history and affirmed Del Testa’s call to remember and never forget all the veterans.

At exactly 11 a.m., bells began to ring in Rooke Chapel and across town to mark the exact timing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 100 years ago. This Sunday, the bells also signified the start of the two minutes of silent reflection of all who served, and specifically the University members who lost their lives in World War I. Members of the community took this time to silently pay respects and remember veterans.

Chaplain Mouhamadou B. Diagne broke the moment of silence by offering a benediction. After giving the benediction, Diagne proceeded to read the names of the University members who are known to have lost their lives in or directly because of the War, and he also listed their majors of study and ranks they held in the military. This information was all gathered through research conducted by the “Bucknellians in World War I” team.

Julia Stevens ’20, one of the student researchers for the project, is currently studying abroad and was not able to attend Sunday’s ceremony. However, she still took the time Sunday to reflect on the sacrifices made by these University veterans. “I wasn’t able to attend the Armistice Day ceremony, which was disappointing because it was such an important day for the ‘Bucknellians in World War I’ project and the people we’re commemorating, but the remembrance doesn’t stop there. We owe it to Bucknell’s veterans to continue to do everything we can to uncover their stories and honor their service,” Stevens said.

“I’ve been working on the project for three years now, and every year I’m reminded of how important it is to remember and to honor these veterans,” Carita said. “When I read journals or letters written by these Bucknellians from the front or I see photos of these soldiers in their uniforms, I’m reminded that the names in our database were students just like me, who walked around campus where I walk, and took classes, joined clubs, and made friends at Bucknell.”

Carita also reflected on the sacrifice University students made to serve their nation. “They gave all that up to serve in the war in some way. I have so much respect for the bravery they must have needed to leave Bucknell and serve in a war, because I can’t imagine making that decision right now,” she said.

Going forward, this year’s ceremony will become an annual University tradition to remember veterans each year with a ceremony on Veterans Day.

“The armistice is a reminder that without these brave men and women, who came from the same place as us and who gave their Bucknell experiences up, we may not have the freedom to enjoy our time at Bucknell,” Carita said.

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