REDDING, Calif.— Simpson University’s new Veterans Memorial Garden was unveiled during a special ceremony Sept. 25 to formally dedicate the Class of 2018’s gift to campus and the North State community.
“Today I want to tell you a story about a historical point on our campus,” Justin Spears, director of Simpson’s Veterans Success Center, told the audience of about 75 people. “It’s a story about civilian students who led the effort to build a memorial wall to honor those who sacrificed it all so we would never forget.”
Last year’s undergraduate seniors chose to build a veterans memorial wall as their class gift, Spears said, making it the first such memorial on a college campus in Shasta County. Numerous businesses donated materials and funds to help students construct the wall and surrounding garden area.
“This veterans memorial represents all different kinds of students, with different backgrounds,” Kyle Martin, former senior class president, said in a written statement Spears read aloud. “It represents the poor, the wealthy, those strong in faith and those struggling to grow in it; those who have tightly knit families and those who don’t; those with military service members in their families and those without.”
The Beale Air Force Base Honor Guard and Jefferson Pipe Band opened the ceremony, followed by a welcome and invocation from Simpson University’s new president, Dr. Norm Hall.
“When I came to campus in the interview phase I saw the recent completion of this monument,” Dr. Hall said. “It touched my heart and all the more brought me nearer to the desire to serve at Simpson University.”
He noted that two of his great uncles served in World War II. “I grew up in a family where we prayed for our veterans and our service men and women every day,” he said. “There are no words to express our thanks that are large enough.”
Spears introduced guest speakers Celestina Traver, Shasta County’s Veterans Service Officer and a Simpson alumna; and former California State Sen. Maurice Johannessen.
“We’re here today to honor our heroes, to honor their achievements, courage and dedication and to say thank you for their sacrifices,” Traver said. “This garden gives vets a place to come for tranquility and peace. As people walk by or stop and sit, they can reflect as to why we honor veterans and say a small prayer for them.
“I believe each college and university should have a place where veterans can reside and feel comfortable and safe,” she said, commending the university for its Veterans Success Center. “The Class of 2018 has embraced this concept of creativity and innovation as they challenged themselves with this project, making a commitment to the university, to our veterans, and to themselves.”
The garden includes a 5-foot-by-7-foot brick wall depicting the shields of each branch of the military and the words of Isaiah 6:8 – “Then I heard the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I, send me!’” Climbing roses line the white vinyl fence facing the granite walkway through the garden. A white bench faces the wall.
“I hope the memorial will be a place where people go for a multitude of reasons—to say a prayer, to have a place to sit and feel connected to a loved one,” Martin said. “I hope to see this memorial become an everlasting part of Simpson.”
Click here to watch a video of the ceremony.
Click here to watch a KRCR-TV story about the ceremony.
Photos by Holly Kiker / Top: Simpson University President Norm Hall with Student Body President Jacqueline Vorster and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colton Hardisty, a Simpson Outdoor Leadership major. / Upper left: Justin Spears, director of the Simpson University Veterans Success Center. / Middle: Simpson University President Norm Hall delivers the welcome and invocation. / Bottom left: Shasta County Veterans Service Officer Celestina Traver was one of the guest speakers. / Bottom right: Former California State Sen. Maurice Johannessen addresses the crowd.
November 17 will mark the two–year anniversary of the grand opening of Simpson’s Veterans Success Center. Serving 50 student veterans this fall, the center is equipped with state–of–the–art technology equipment and houses a VA work–study site, the Student Veteran Organization, Simpson’s chapter of the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society, academic resources, conference and study services, as well as a community space.
Learn more about Simpson University’s Veterans Success Center at simpsonu.edu/veterans.
A special thank-you to those who donated to make the Veterans Memorial Garden possible:
-Shasta County Veterans Affiliated Council
-John Ashmore Masonry
-CoCo Mongolian Grill
-Associated Student Body of Simpson University
Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings; the Betty M. Dean School of Nursing, A.W. Tozer Seminary, the School of Education, and the School of Graduate Professional Studies. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit simpsonu.edu.