Memorial Day 2024

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May 27, 2024, 1:54 p.m.
Books included in the research guide for this year's Memorial Day display relates to the American Vietnam War memorialization.
Capitol Building in background with people dressed in military uniforms at memorial

by Ocean A. Noah, MFA, Creative Writing ’24

Curating this year’s books forMemorial Day research guideallowed me to consider the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day for the first time. Memorial Day is uniquely about memory, mourning, grief and gratitude.

Most of the books included in this year’s Memorial Day research guide relate to the American Vietnam War memorialization. Though not a conscious decision at first, this parallel makes perfect sense since it ties together, through a common thread, the strong relationship with Syracuse University students. From the Vietnam War Era to the present, student and alumni veterans have contributed significantly to Syracuse University’s campus culture.

In a public memorial we have displayed in Bird Library, we endeavored to honor three Syracuse University alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service. Amy McDonald at the Special Collections Research Center assisted me in searching for photos and biographical information for the alumni featured in this display who were either killed in action or missing in action. Major Michael Dimitri Balamoti ’60 (United States Air Force; Laos), a cherished student and fraternity brother, was laid to rest when his remains were discovered twenty-six years after his death in Laos. First Lieutenant James Nathaniel Lyons ’02 (United States Army; Iraq), a highly decorated officer, is memorialized through a scholarship at Syracuse University for students whose parents are disabled or fallen heroes. Pfc Griswald Mills Hill Jr. ’49 (United States Marine Corp; Korea), though more challenging to trace, left a significant mark. His senior portrait may be absent from the yearbook, but his memory lives on in the hearts of those who knew him. The occasion of Memorial Day and Hill’s missing information both serve to remind us that our memorialization work is never done. Syracuse University will remain dedicated to uncovering the stories of all its alumni who have given their lives to service.

Memorial Day, the act of remembering, is both an intellectual and affective way to engage with war. The books chosen for the research guide feature several academic works that critically evaluate how architecture, rhetoric, photography and film represent the many lives lost to war. The public memorial honors the lives of brave and brilliant Syracuse University alumni and service members who inhabit our minds, hearts and even our books.

Warmest thoughts to all Syracuse University families who have lost someone they love in the line of duty.

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