Kansas U Honors WWI and Other Vets

By By U Wire and By U Wire

By U Wire

EMPORIA, Kan.?Emporia State University and its community have a rich tradition of honoring those who have served in war. Veteran’s Day began in Emporia, and the Memorial Union itself is dedicated to the heroes of war.

This year, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, will be more important than in the past for many Americans due to the Sept. 11 attacks.

“There will be a more patriotic sense [on Veterans Day],” Tholen said. “Our liberties are a result of people going to war and fighting for the cause.”

In 1922, students at the Kansas State Normal wanted to dedicate a memorial to the 549 Emporia State students and alumni who had died in World War I. After deciding against several ideas, including chimes and a stadium, the idea of the Memorial Union came about as a commemorative.

The building was finished in 1925, and it was the first student union built west of the Mississippi.

“The fund-raising effort [for the union] focused on the Great War, which is what it was called then because World War II hadn’t happened yet,” said Roger Heineken, director of the MU Information Center. The union’s dedication was soon expanded to include the four students who died in the Spanish-American War?Rutherford Park, Clifford Rhinehart, Curran Craig and William McTaggart.

“The Spanish-American War was soon picked up to honor,” Heineken said. “These were the first two wars [Spanish American War and World War I] that ESU students were involved in.”

Now there are plaques in a display case on Main Street in honor of the veterans of the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm. The plaques have the names of the students who died in the war, though they are dedicated to all those who served. More than likely, a plaque for America’s newest war will one day be added to that display case on Main Street.

“The reality that we failed to recognize those students [who served in wars other than World War I] helped us to recognize we don’t have a special sanctum [for veterans] besides the plaques,” Heineken said.