Darlene Wendels / The Collegian
In honor of Veterans Day, university students, faculty and alumni gathered Monday morning in the Rose Garden to celebrate the rededication of the 16-ton Fresno State Veterans Monument that was formerly located at the corner of Cedar and Shaw avenues.
Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter delivered the keynote message for the ceremony, saying he felt privileged to be able to honor the 21 million men and women who have served and are still serving today in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I consistently try to remind our players of the selfless sacrifice that our veterans have provided and will continue to provide for our country,” DeRuyter said. “Too many times we as a country take for granted these freedoms, as well as the men and women who provide them.”
The monument, which was originally dedicated in 1960 to “Fresno State College students who died in service of our country,” was the final part of Fresno State’s signage project that was initiated in the summer of 2013.
DeRuyter, who served seven-and-a-half years of active duty in the Air Force, said he felt a special appreciation for the daily sacrifices made by those that serve in the armed forces and that he hoped to honor that service both as a coach and as an educator.
“I don’t want our team to ever take these things for granted,” he said. “I think that it is very fitting that we continue to remind and ensure that our students, as well as players, know the sacrifices of our warriors and heroes and their families, what they go through to allow us to live in this great world.”
The Fresno State Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion presented the colors for the ceremony along with Valerie Elizabeth Loera who sang “My Country Tis of Thee,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
The ceremony, sponsored by the Fresno State Student Veterans Organization and the Veterans Services Office, also featured brief messages by Jonathan Rumsey, president of the Student Veterans Organization and Moses Menchaca, Associated Students, Inc. president.
Menchaca, who began the ceremony, said that he had remembered seeing the monument throughout the year, but had never fully come to appreciate the significance behind it.
“I remember where the statue was first located, right on the corner of Cedar and Shaw, and every day passing by it as I parked my car, and every day not realizing what the monument represented,” Menchaca said. “It’s truly an honor now we can have it at the heart of the campus, right where every student will be able to see it, to be able to see its purpose, and remember those who have sacrificed.”
Robert Boyd, the associate vice president for facilities management, said that staff had been working tirelessly throughout the weekend to complete the “engineering feat” in time for the Veterans Day celebration. Two cranes were used to move the 16-ton monument and as late as Sunday, grass was still being laid down for the event.
Boyd also spoke about the importance of the monument’s move to within the Memorial Court alongside the Rose Garden, increasing its visibility at the center of campus.
“If you look at the trees, they’re all dedicated to all the various veterans and alumni who served our country for many many years,” Boyd said. “So this seems very prominent for us to put it at the head, the beginning, as you walk into that court.”
The monument now will be featured alongside other memorials, such as the Submarine Memorial in the Maple Mall.
“It’s appropriate to me that we honor those folks today, as well as always for their service and commitment to our country, and at the same time build a prominent place on campus to remember and reflect,” Boyd said.