MARYVILLE, Mo. — Officials from Northwest Missouri State University, the state government, the Missouri National Guard and, of course, local veterans gathered Wednesday to dedicate the new Veterans Commons at the university’s Valk Center in honor of Veterans Day.

Attending the ribbon cutting ceremony were state Rep. Allen Andrews; Maj. Gen. Levon Cumpton, Adjutant General of the Missouri National Guard; and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson.

The remodeled space on the top floor of the Valk Center offers veterans a place to gather, study, network and interact with members of the Missouri Army National Guard Officer Leadership Program.

“I tell people, it’s not exactly about what we’re doing today at Northwest, it’s about what everybody’s done before this day,” Parson, who served in the U.S. Army for six years, said at Wednesday’s ceremony. “To give us all the opportunity to be here, to live the American dream, to understand what real freedom’s about. To understand the importance of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights.

“And imagine, those things have been passed down for 240-plus years, and here we are today in northwest Missouri, and it’s kind of our time. It’s our time to make sure we pass that down to those next generations to make sure they understand the importance of freedom. That they recognize the men and women that served our country.”

Further enhancing the space, Northwest public history and museum studies students developed a museum exhibit detailing the military experiences of students, faculty and staff as well as university activities during times of significant military conflict, including World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Visitors to the Veterans Commons will have the opportunity to see artifacts and hear from veterans in their own words through an oral history component. Additionally, the Wall of Honor, which had been housed in the Administration Building for decades, has been relocated for permanent display in the Veterans Commons.

The Wall of Honor has its roots in the Roll of Honor, an initiative begun by the student newspaper, The Green and White Courier, in 1917 that collected the names of students involved in World War I. For each student named, a star was added to a service flag displayed outside the Administration Building.

That tradition continued through World War II in the form of a bulletin board as a temporary memorial in the Administration Building.

Today, the World War II Roll of Honor displays 1,094 names and includes 35 names with gold stars indicating military members who died in the service.

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