The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI hosts dedication for new Veterans Plaza outside Iowa Memorial Union

The ceremony comes a day before Veterans Day, and hosted speakers such as UI President Barbara Wilson.
Aishani Kundu
Veterans and event goers hold a conversation at the reception after the University of Iowa Veterans Plaza Dedication at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023.

The University of Iowa dedicated a new memorial for current and former Hawkeyes in the armed forces outside the Iowa Memorial Union on Friday afternoon — the day before Veterans Day.

The UI Veterans Plaza was opened after being constructed for nine months. It features seven granite monuments with bronze plaques on each one; six for each branch of the U.S. armed services, and one that describes the plaza and makes reference to the gift from Maj. Gen. Stewart Wallace

About 50 people gathered for the dedication, many of whom are veterans or currently serving. The event began with the raising of the American flag on a flagpole behind the monuments, with a trumpet playing the national anthem in the process.

The plaza’s creation came as a collaboration between Bill Nelson, associate dean and executive director of the IMU, and Wallace.

Nelson said Wallace’s involvement with the project began after the creation of the war memorial inside the IMU, built to recognize those who have served. 

“Through working closely together, this idea of we needed to relocate the plaza because the former plaza stood on the footprint of what is now the Stanley Museum of Art,” Nelson said. “It was decided to move it here — that’s when I decided to engage Stuart in the conversation.”

Nelson said the full project cost roughly between $85-90,000. He added that it took several months to procure the granite monuments, followed by procuring the plaques.

“There were bits and pieces of the project that were coming together over that nine-month period, and so we’re really pleased today to celebrate this completion,” Nelson said.

The dedication featured several people from the university who came to speak on the importance and meaning of the memorial, including UI President Barbara Wilson.

During her remarks, Wilson said the UI supported and honored its veterans who contributed to the culture on campus. She also thanked all the different organizations on campus that support veterans.

“[Veterans] provide us with such an important perspective and unique inspiration,” Wilson said. “At this moment, it’s our honor to really celebrate veterans, historically and currently and into the future, with this incredible plaza space.”

Other speakers included Wallace, Matt Miller, director of student support in the Iowa Veteran Education, Transition, and Support Office, and Jeff Liebermann, assistant vice president of the UI Center for Advancement.

Each of the speakers touched on the importance of having a memorial that honored and celebrated the veterans who have studied and worked at the UI. In this same vein, Wallace talked about the IMU’s new memorial wall, created to name and honor the veterans from the UI who have died, something he said has moved him.

“I will hope that as I was moved by this list of names, that these young students that walk around the campus today will see this plaza in the union, and see the list of names there, to be moved in the same way,” Wallace said.

Following the dedication, attendees were invited to go inside the IMU for a reception. 

At the reception, Lauren Haefs, a UI third-year and member of the Army ROTC, said the monument is a good reminder of the many communities on campus. 

“I think that sometimes the veteran military-connected community can be a little bit separate, and it’s nice to feel that and see that we are part of this campus and we are recognized and it kind of shows that appreciation for all of our students,” Haefs said. 

Another attendee was Shayla Loffler, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who is pursuing a pharmacy degree at UI. Loffler said the monument is in a good location for people to view and visit it.

“I think that sometimes service people are out of sight, out of mind, not necessarily at the forefront,” Loeffler said. “It’s nice to be reminded every once and a while that we’re all here, and there were people that came before us that allow us to be here to enjoy our freedoms that we have now.” 

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About the Contributors
Alejandro Rojas
Alejandro Rojas, News Editor
Alejandro Rojas is The Daily Iowan's news editor. He previously worked as a news reporter covering Johnson County and was the summer executive editor in 2023. He is a senior, double majoring in journalism and political science.
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Aishani Kundu
Aishani Kundu, Photojournalist
Aishani Kundu is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Psychology.