Lamppost Memorials Honor Baylor Veterans
- Granite lampposts across campus bear plaques commemorating Baylor veterans who were killed while serving in the military. Photo courtesy of Karyn Simpson.
- The idea for the memorial lampposts began during World War II, when Baylor psychology professor Anna Martin wanted a way to recognize Baylor veterans who had given the ultimate sacrifice. Photos courtesy of Karyn Simpson
- There are now more than 140 memorial lampposts on campus, each bearing the name of a different Baylor veteran.
- Though the lampposts do not list much about the veterans, Frank Jasek, BBA '73, a book preservationist and library information specialist for Baylor University, used the information on the plaques to uncover the veterans' histories. He complied the stories, letters, and pictures he found into the book, "Soldiers of the Wooden Cross." Photo courtesy of Frank Jasek.
- In Jasek's book, "Soldiers of the Wooden Cross," each veteran is given a two-page spread filled with a short biography, photos, journal entries and letters to and from the veterans and their families. Photo courtesy of Frank Jasek.
"Soldiers of the Wooden Cross" Tells Stories of Commemorated Veterans
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Media contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275
WACO, Texas (May 25, 2016) — Sometimes the small memorials are the most meaningful.
Scattered across Baylor University's campus are more than 140 granite memorial lampposts — silent stone sentinels that each bear a plaque commemorating a Baylor student who was killed in service.
The memorial originated in 1946 on the suggestion of Baylor psychology professor Anna Martin. During World War II, Martin wrote and sold a newsletter focused on passing along information about Baylor men and women who were serving in the war. According to Frank Jasek, BBA '73, a book preservationist and library information specialist for Baylor University, Martin wanted to honor Baylor students who had died in the war, so she used the proceeds from the newsletter to build memorial lampposts. Since then, lampposts and plaques have continued to be added across campus and now represent soldiers from every branch of the military from the Civil War to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The black, shield-shaped plaques each host a silver inscription bearing a veteran's name, rank, division, years at Baylor and death date, immortalizing their memories in metal and stone. They are simple, elegant tributes to the sacrifices made by men and women for the sake of the United States, and the only thing they lack is a full story.
Jasek noticed these plaques as he walked around Baylor's campus years ago. He wanted to know the stories behind the names and began digging for information.
"I just wanted to know who they were, what had happened to them," he said. "I just started with one, and one thing leads to another … I never realized it was going to be this extensive."
After more than a decade of research, Jasek compiled his findings into a 323-page book, "Soldiers of the Wooden Cross," that uses letters, photos, newspaper clippings, poems and original art to tell the stories of each veteran.
The book allots a two-page spread to each veteran and includes a map of where each plaque is located so family members or curious readers can find particular names.
"His goal was to open a window into each life for those who would see the name and wonder about the story. For each plaque, Jasek hunted down information, contacting family members, descendants, nieces, nephews or anyone who knew the individual," wrote Grant Teaff, former Baylor football coach, in the forward of "Soldiers of the Wooden Cross."
As he researched, Jasek found veterans who had played in the band, been a part of the NoZe Brotherhood, been a member of the swim team or had worked for the Baylor Round Up and Lariat. When he could, he added photos of them as children, at Baylor or with their families. If photos weren't available, Jasek created original paintings depicting scenes from their service.
"Soldiers of the Wooden Cross" can be found at bookstores in Waco, Belton and Salado, as well as online at Jasek's Facebook page. All proceeds from the book go to a scholarship fund that will be awarding its first scholarship this July.
by Karyn Simpson, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
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