On Friday, Nov. 9, the UCLA departments of aerospace studies, military science and naval science honored those ROTC graduates and UCLA alumni, faculty and staff who have died while on active duty in our country's wars by dedicating a plaque at the north side of the Student Activities Center.
The idea for the memorial was prompted by the death of Army 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily, a 23-year-old Irvine, Calif., native and UCLA alumnus, who was killed on Jan. 15 when a roadside bomb detonated beneath his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq.
Daily had posted a poignant account of his reasons for fighting in a war he was at times ambivalent about on his page at MySpace.com. After his death, his words on "selfless service" were read on the U.S. Senate floor and published by numerous newspapers and Web sites.
Daily's former teachers and classmates in the military science department proposed the idea of a memorial, and former UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams set the wheels in motion to have the plaque ready by Veterans Day.
"We had nothing on campus to remember Bruin veterans by, no recognition whatsoever, whereas other state colleges and universities had memorial sites," said Lt. Col. Christopher Talcott, professor and chair of the military science department. "We thought we should have some place where we could go when we lose a Bruin, some place where friends and family can come, and where we can do Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies to honor those who have died at war."
Talcott added that the authors of the two quotes that appear on the plaque — Daily and baseball legend Jackie Robinson — are examples of UCLA ROTC graduates who became leaders because of their military training and liberal arts education.
Speakers at the dedication ceremony included Judge Vincent Okamoto, the most highly decorated living Japanese American veteran of the Vietnam War, who was commissioned through UCLA ROTC; Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub (retired), UCLA alumnus and a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars; Lt. Col. Christopher Talcott, professor and chair of military science at UCLA; Cpt. Jason Marquez, UCLA alumnus, Daily's ROTC classmate and mentor, and a decorated soldier who served in Kuwait as part of Operation Enduring Freedom; and Gene Block, UCLA's chancellor.
The national anthem and taps were played by trumpeters from UCLA's music department.
Daily's family members attended the ceremony, as did UCLA ROTC cadets and graduates and members of UCLA's faculty and staff.