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Tribute to Sacrifice

A project that was almost a decade in the making came to fruition on Sunday, November 2 with the dedication of the newly constructed veterans memorial titled, Tribute to Sacrifice.

The project began on December 13, 2004, when Rev. James Loughran, S.J., then president of Saint Peter’s, authorized Thomas Donnelly, Ph.D., professor emeritus of sociology, to conduct research on Saint Peter’s alumni who served in the United States military. The research, which took place over the course of the past ten years, revealed that more than 2,000 alumni have served the country and 40 of these alumni made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

In order to honor these veterans who lost their lives while serving their country, the University developed plans for a memorial to be constructed in the courtyard outside of the Mac Mahon Student Center. With help of more than 200 donors who contributed nearly $60,000, this initiative became a reality.

The memorial dedication was held on All Souls Day, about a week before Veterans Day. Alumni, family and members of the Saint Peter’s community gathered for an alumni memorial Mass at St. Aedan’s: The Saint Peter’s University Church. Following the Mass, the group made their way to the Mac Mahon Student Center where they heard from champions of the project, Dr. Donnelly and Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University.

“What message do these Saint Peter’s heroes send to students who pass by this memorial every day as they walk through campus?” asked Donnelly. “Is it not the same message Saint Ignatius gave to his followers over four hundred years ago, a message of service, of living life for others, of putting others first, of sacrificing for others? To be a true student of a Jesuit education is to strive to be a man or woman for others.”

“Today, our students stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Cornacchia. “These giants are our alumni and they are the people who have made the University what is today. We have a long history of service to our country at Saint Peter’s and we are proud to honor these 40 alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

Kevin Kernahan attended the dedication event because his father, Gregory Kernahan ’64, was one of the veterans honored on the memorial. Kevin lost his father at the age of three.

“Memorials such as these are great to me because the important thing is not to simply remember that these individuals served, but that they were people who existed,” said Kevin. “We are not here to mourn, but to celebrate the lives of these veterans. It is also great to have the opportunity to connect with people who may have known my father since I never had the chance to get to know him.”

Veteran alumni and members of the VFW Post 1302 were also in attendance at the event to raise the American flag over the memorial. Post Commander Jennifer Long ’82, was a part of the ceremony and shared how her experience at Saint Peter’s inspired her 30-year military career.

“I was involved in the ROTC program at Saint Peter’s and I enlisted as soon as I graduated,” said Long. “It is outstanding to see a memorial like this on the campus. I am always connected to memorials such as this because I have experienced serving overseas.”

To learn more about the veterans honored on the Tribute to Sacrifice memorial or to make a gift to support this initiative, please click here.