It’s beautiful and in memory
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Memorial Union at the University of Missouri is actually a memorial, not just a place to take a nap on a couch and get Starbucks.
Yes, the Starbucks is so convenient and the fireplace is so cozy to warm up to and study, but before all those material resources existed, Memorial Union was just a memorial.
Construction of the gothic tower was completed in 1926. As soon as work was to begin on the north wing, construction was stopped because of the Great Depression and the tower stood alone for 25 years. In 1963, the tower, the north and south wings, and the A.P Green Chapel was finished.
The goal of Memorial Union wasn’t to build a place for a Starbucks. It was built as a Memorial to honor the 117 Mizzou alumni and students alike who died serving the United States in World War I. The name of these men are inscribed in the archway of the tower.
To honor these men, the tradition states that as you walk under the arch, you remove your hat and speak in a whisper. However I can’t even remember the last time I saw someone actually take off their hat or whisper when walking through the archway.
The 117 men that died about 100 years ago are no different than the active military men and women that walk through campus everyday. Next time you are walking through Memorial Union to grab Starbucks, remember the active men and women that are our friends, family and classmates. Take off your hat and speak in a whisper, and remember that the men whom Memorial Union was built for have given the same as those surrounding us everyday.