"A Common Cause"

Veteran's Memorial Rededication

Dr. Steven A. Scott, President, Pittsburg State University

November 11, 2010

Good afternoon and what a wonderful afternoon it is and what a beautiful setting this is.  Welcome to the campus of Pittsburg State University.  It's great to see a wonderful turn out like we have and particularly wonderful to see our cadets, veterans, and their families with us today.  Thank you for sharing this special day with us.  You're always welcome on our campus, and we hope that you will come back often. 

You know it was six years ago we had a similar scene when we first gathered to dedicate this Veterans Memorial Amphitheater.  It was a day filled with military honors, stories of service, and expressions of gratitude.  This facility is another great example of what can happen when Pittsburg State University, this community and our many supporters join together in a common cause. 

From its inception this memorial has been embraced by the campus, the community and the region.  Your response to our call for help in replacing the traveling wall is a great example of this.  The response was swift, and I would say, overwhelming.  It's important today that we publicly acknowledge the leadership of former Vice President for our University Advancement, Dr. Jim Aubuchon and our current Vice President for Advancement, Dr. Brad Hodson, in leading this successful effort.  Jim and Brad thank you very much and let's recognize them with a round of applause. 

Much of the work that we do at the University, we feel like is mission work and I think this has been mission work.  While the impact of the memorial is hard to measure the numbers that it produced are not.  Nearly one hundred and forty thousand people have visited this site since it first opened.  You'll find more than three thousand engraved pavers representing families from forty three states.  From Hawaii to New Hampshire people have chosen this venue to honor those who have served. 

Inscribed on one of those pavers is the name of James W. Newland, the brother of Judy Hix.  In many ways, Judy and her husband Cliff are representative of the incredible support our community has provided this memorial.  The fifty state flags you see behind me were originally meant to be flown just once and that was during the dedication ceremonies in 2004.  Upon learning this, Cliff and Judy voluntarily came forward to create the Hix Flag Care Fund.  This endowment allowed the university to install permanent steel poles and continues to provide the funding necessary to make certain these flags are replaced as needed throughout the year. 

Their story is just one of thousands of examples of community members joining with the university in support of the Veterans Memorial. 

Just like many of the people who support our work at the university and particularly support this great facility, people don't seek to be honored for it and they don't seek recognition for it.  I think that's a very important thing to note today. 

I recently spoke with a faculty member whose office overlooks the memorial and she admitted to me that she was uncertain how popular the memorial would be over time.  After all we live in a society that continually moves on and is not known for its ability to pause, and reflect or even to honor sometimes.   She was happy to admit the other day that her fears were unfounded. 

We stood on the opening of the memorial on the pavers above here and she said to me "Steve."  People do call me Steve around here, I think that's good.  "If you want to see how important this memorial is to our region, just spend a day in my office.  There's always almost someone here.  Someone visiting the memorial to pay his or her respects to those who've served.  You can see the emotion in their faces as they leave.  It's an incredible and moving site."  A different perspective but an important one. 

It's that type of reaction that was in danger of being lost when the panels behind me began to show the effects of weather exposure.  We knew that granite panels were the best way to insure the memorials continued success but you know, there was a day or two where we were uncertain whether we would be able to find the financial support to replace them. 

Well I'm pleased to stand here today in front of you and to say that our community, our alumni, donors, our retired staff, Veterans and members of this community have stepped forward to join Pittsburg State University in what really is a common cause.  Once again the call was heeded and the challenge was met and this beautiful and special place is better for it. 

On behalf of Pittsburg State University, I want to thank you for your continued support for insuring this memorial will remain an integral part of this community for decades to come.  Thank you all very much.