Western Reserve Academy unveils war memorial

Submitted by Western Reserve Academy

On Nov. 14, Western Reserve Academy held a commemoration and dedication ceremony of the Alumni War Memorial and an unveiling of the new brick and bronze structure that stands between the campus Chapel and Seymour Hall.

“While the main goal of the WRA Alumni War Memorial is to honor our alumni who have paid the ultimate price, it is also hoped that it will serve as both a warning and a lesson,” said Anderson. “The warning is never to ignore danger. The lesson is that free people – if threatened – have to fight for their freedom and the freedom of their children and future generations.”

The WRA Alumni War Memorial honors alumni of the school who gave their lives in service to the country, bearing the names of those who died in the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. (Western Reserve Academy did not suffer any student-military casualties during World War I and the War in Afghanistan). Also included on the memorial are two civilians who were killed in other military conflicts: Jordi Pujol ’86, a journalist who was killed in Sarajevo while covering that conflict, and Todd Weaver ’89, a businessman who lost his life in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

The War Memorial Committee is led by Harrison “Hub” Bubb ’57, includes fellow WRA alumni Brooke Anderson ’57 and Dr. Loren Raymond ’58, as well as Christopher Bach, an architectural and landscape designer from Hudson.

The War Memorial Committee, led by Harrison “Hub” Bubb ’57, includes fellow WRA alumni Brooke Anderson ’57 and Dr. Loren Raymond ’58, as well as Christopher Bach, an architectural and landscape designer from Hudson.

WRA Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck said the memorial’s prominent location on campus is apt, particularly because the location marks a shift from a spot on campus that has become less traveled with time.

“Those we seek to remember were central to our campus and our country,” Buck said.

Inside the Chapel, the school community and more than 50 invited guests filled the pews to capacity. Student body co-Presidents Landon Allis ’23 and Jordanne Nichols ’23 introduced the War Memorial Committee and guest speaker Lt. General (Ret.) Daniel W. Christman ’61.

Christman is the former superintendent of the United States Military Academy and the current senior vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Christman was born in Youngstown, raised in Hudson and graduated first in his class from West Point. He was awarded four times with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the nation’s highest peacetime service award.

Christman recalled his time as a WRA student, gazing at the World War II plaque inside the Bicknell Gymnasium, softly reciting the names of the 46 young men who gave their lives to their country. Why so many, he wondered, from a school so small?

“As I served in the Army, fought in Vietnam, and became familiar later in life with battlefields like Gettysburg and Normandy and Antietam, the size of the sacrifices from this school became, perhaps, more understandable,” he shared. “This school produces leaders. Always has.”

At the conclusion of Christman’s speech, members of The Academy Choir stood in the upper level pews to perform “In Flanders Fields.” This was followed by a special presentation organized by Dr. Lisabeth Robinson, longtime WRA faculty member of the social science department, who has compiled research on the WRA students who lost their lives either serving this country or through a military conflict. There were slides about each student, details about their time at the school, their talents and passions.

At the end of the Chapel ceremony, the program extended to the outdoors where invited guests walked to the site of the memorial wall. The bronze plaque that adorns the memorial has a long history at WRA, first unveiled in 1951 on the 125th anniversary of the school to honor 46 Reserve graduates who died in World War II. This central plaque is flanked by two more that honor those who died in other conflicts.

After a performance of “Taps” from students Kai Kaneta ’24 and Alex Wu ’23, the Chapel bells tolled — 66 rings for 66 Pioneers. ∞

Featured Photo: Western Reserve Academy first unveiled its memorial wall in 1951 on the 125th anniversary of the school to honor 46 Reserve graduates who died in World War II.Photos by Joey Randazzo