MISSOULA – The Fallen Soldier Memorial at the University of Montana is a solemn reminder of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memorial, bearing the names of Montana soldiers who lost their lives in the recent wars, will be recognized as the official State Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans’ Memorial on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The dedication ceremony will take place 30 minutes after the home Grizzly football game concludes. The Oct. 26 game against Eastern Washington University officially is the military appreciation game, when Griz Nation will honor members of the armed services before and during the game.
Members of the public are invited to attend the outdoor dedication ceremony, which will take place at the monument, located along historic Memorial Row on the northeast side of campus, across from the tennis courts.
“This dedication is a wonderful opportunity to take a few minutes after the Griz game and pay tribute to our 43 Montana servicemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said David Bell, co-founder of Grateful Nation Montana, which led efforts to create the monument on campus. “What a great way for parents to expose their kids to the service and sacrifice made for our country by our men and women in uniform.”
In its last session, the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 351, extending the state designation to the memorial, without a single opposing vote. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed the bill into law on April 8. Bullock and Maj. Gen. Matthew Quinn, Montana adjutant general, will speak at the dedication.
“While this memorial specifically recognizes those who lost their lives, it also honors all military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” UM President Royce Engstrom said. “We couldn’t be more proud to host this monument on our campus as a gesture of respect to all veterans and their families.”
The Fallen Soldier Memorial features five larger-than-life bronze statues surrounded by granite tablets recessed in the ground. The tablets are inscribed with the name, branch, rank, years lived and Montana hometowns of each fallen soldier. The monument was installed at UM in 2011 and initially dedicated on Nov. 4, 2011.
Grateful Nation Montana was formed in 2007 to facilitate college educations for the children of Montana soldiers killed in active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is a Montana University System Board of Regents sanctioned program led by UM.