LSU’s military traditions date from its founding in 1860. As with other institutions which have a strong military history and heritage, LSU experienced the pain caused by the loss of lives of many of its alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the nation’s armed forces. Several memorials have been established on campus in their honor and serve as vivid reminders of their service and sacrifice.
Memorial Tower, or the Campanile, built in 1923 and dedicated in 1926, was one of the first structures on the present campus. It was paid for by the American Legion of Louisiana and given to the University as a memorial to Louisianans who gave their lives during World War I. On the rotunda walls are bronze plaques bearing the names of those to whom Memorial Tower is dedicated.
A capital campaign, the LSU Military Endowment Campaign Commission, is under way to renovate and restore Memorial Tower to house the LSU Military Museum, a repository for artifacts and memorabilia reflecting the University’s rich military history and heritage. While Memorial Tower houses the offices of Cadets of the Ole War Skule, it’s also a primary destination for campus recruiting tours.
The plaza in front of Memorial Tower hosts appropriate University ceremonies. The Cornerstone on the plaza was excavated from the ruins of Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in Pineville, the original campus. One half describes the history, and the other half is inscribed with the names of the first Board of Supervisors and faculty. In 2003, the LSU Corps of Cadets placed a “time capsule” on the plaza honoring all former, present, and future cadets.
Memorial Oak Grove
Each of the 30 magnificent live oak trees in Memorial Oak Grove, located just south of the LSU Union, was dedicated in 1926 to a fallen soldier who had given his live in service to the United State of America. One tree is dedicated to “The Unknown”, representing those missing in action but remembered for their valor.
A Bit of History
This information on Memorial Oak Grove appears in the book Tower, Tablet, and Tree: LSU and the American Legion, 1919-1941 by Peter Soderbergh
(Baton Rouge, La. : Boyd-Ewing Post 58, The American Legion, Department of Louisiana, c1983).
The T-33 jet was dedicated on December 6, 1966, by Capt. Frank S. Hagan, squadron commander of the Arnold Air Society. It is a memorial for all LSU graduates who, as aviators, have died in the defense of their country.
LSU War Memorial
The LSU War Memorial was dedicated October 8, 1998, in memory of those who gave their lives in military conflict from World War II through and including future wars and conflicts. The LSU Alumni Association raised the money necessary to construct the memorial and then donated it to the University. The memorial serves as the site of numerous military ceremonies and recognition events each year.