UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

UND advances plans to honor those who served in the military

Memorial Village site, Veterans Honor Wall will venerate those connected to UND who made ultimate sacrifice for our nation

UND ROTC cadets present arms at the Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks, Sept. 11, 2021. UND archival photo.

As Memorial Day approaches, it’s worth remembering that the Memorial Union stands as a monument to those connected to UND who have died in military service to their nation. The UND community is reminded of that through a memorial on the wall just outside the Large Ballroom on the building’s second floor, not to mention the nature of the building itself.

But soon another installation, just steps away from the ballroom, will record the names of those UND students, faculty, staff and alumni, in an installation of remembrance.

The Veterans Honor Wall will be located on the second floor of the Memorial Union, at the top of the grand staircase. Specifically, the wall is meant to be an enduring tribute to members of the UND community who were prisoners of war, missing in action or who died while in U.S. military service. The installation is set to be completed during the upcoming academic year and will be dedicated on Memorial Day in 2024.

“In 2018, UND students voted to rebuild the Memorial Union, showing their commitment to the University’s future and to commemorate those who have died in honorable service to their nation,” UND President Andrew Armacost said. “The student body’s decision involved a substantial commitment via their student fees, and I am thankful for their decision to do so. The Veterans Honor Wall will be a perfect complement to a building that stands in recognition of our veteran’s service.”

In 2021 at the dedication ceremony of the newly completed Memorial Union, then-Student Body President Gracie Lian said students decided to continue with the name because of what the building embodies:

construction photo
Construction on the Memorial Village continues, in this May, 23, 2023 file photo. Photo by Adam Kurtz/UND Today

“The Memorial Union is a recognition of the students and the alums who have died in service to our country,” Lian said then. “They dedicated themselves to our nation, so that we can stand in buildings such as this one and learn and flourish and grow.”

Since May 18, 1951, the Memorial Union has stood as a symbol of remembrance for members of the UND community who gave their lives in World War II. That symbol was reborn on Aug. 23, 2021, when the newly rebuilt Memorial Union was opened for student use. The concept of the memorial was expanded to include UND community members from other conflicts. A more complete history of the Memorial Union can be found on the Memorial Union website.

war memorial
Students walk in front of the memorial wall in the Memorial Union. Photo by Walter Criswell/UND Today

The Veterans Honor Wall will list names of those who have died in any conflict while serving. According to Curt Hanson, head of Special Collections in the Chester Fritz Library, there are hundreds of names that can be included. The University maintains a list of people who died in World War I and World War II.

People may nominate service members from other conflicts (including people missing in action and service members who were taken prisoner) to be included on the memorial wall. The nomination form can be found on the Veterans Honor Wall online. The form can also be found on the UND Veteran & Military Services webpage. Inclusion in the monument requires verification through UND records and historical documents.

Work on Memorial Village continues

While work on the Veterans Honor Wall is well underway, plans are also in the works to include a commemorative installation at the under-construction Memorial Village site.

Built as a memorial to UND’s World War I war dead, Memorial Stadium was completed in 1927 and hosted innumerable football games and other events until 1999. The stadium was later demolished due to structural concerns, though a portion of its iconic brick wall remains. Plans are to include that brick wall in a memorial installation, which will commemorate those fallen soldiers as well as the original Memorial Stadium building. A more complete history of the original Memorial Stadium can be found at UND Today.

Memorial Village is a public/private partnership between UND and a private development company, Memorial Village LLC. The first floor of the building will house the Athletics Department and coaches’ offices, an academic success center for student-athletes and community-gathering spaces, with several floors of market-rate apartments above. The apartments are set to be leased by mid-summer of 2024, at which time the Athletics Department will move into the first floor.