Memorial Day ceremony closes with taps and hugs

Photo: Dave Panconi, contemplative, at Memorial Day ceremony
Photo: Dave Panconi, contemplative, at Memorial Day ceremony


It has a page for each of our Gold Star Aggies — “Gold Star” is a term that surviving family members might use, as in Gold Star Mother or Gold Star Father, to indicate the loss of a child in war — and it is kept in a display case in a corner of Griffin Lounge in the MU. Soon the book will have a new home, in the MU renovation scheduled to start in the fall. The plans include a memorial wall with an interactive digital display that will provide direct access to each page in the memory book.

Click here for a list of all the Gold Star Aggies, each accompanied by class year at UC Davis, branch of service, highest rank and the war in which the Aggie lost his life. Digital scans of every page of the Golden Memory Book can be seen in this PDF.


"MEMORIAL DAY: Honoring the 135th fallen Aggie," Dateline UC Davis (May 13, 2014)

“City dedicates park to alumnus killed in Vietnam,” Dateline UC Davis (May 25, 2007)

“Honoring the fallen: Staffer remembers those who did not return from war,” Dateline UC Davis (May 26, 2006)

“Golden memories,” Dateline UC Davis (May 26, 2006)

UC Davis gave its military casualties — and the mother of one of them — a loving embrace Thursday (May 22), at an early Memorial Day ceremony.

About 150 people attended the 5 p.m. observance sposored by Campus Recreation and Unions, on the north side of the Memorial Union, dedicated in 1955 to the more than 100 students lost in World War I and World War II.

Each of the fallen Aggies is forever enshrined in the campus’s Golden Memory Book, which, as a result of Korea and Vietnam, grew to hold 134 names. During last week’s ceremony, the university added another name, that of Lt. Col. Mark D. Taylor, an Army surgeon, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his death in Iraq.

Roberta Taylor, his mother, attended the ceremony, accompanied by family friends and joined by classmates of her son’s — from Lincoln High School in Stockton and UC Davis, including his Theta Xi roommate, Dave Panconi. A contingent of today’s Theta Xi members also attended.

“Today we have an opportunity to echo the significance of this important day to our country, state and campus, by honoring and recognizing those Aggies who have died in all American wars, Aggies who we cannot and should not forget, as their ulimate sacrifice has allowed us to continue to pursue our American dreams,” Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Adela de la Torre told the audience.

Taylor had been pursuing his own American dream: Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from UC Davis, 1986; pharmacy degree from UCSF, 1991; and medical degree and Master’s in Public Health from George Washington University, 1996.

He began his military service in UC Davis’ Army ROTC, the same unit that participated in Thursday’s ceremony. Cadet Liam Burke, a third-year major in political science (with an emphasis in public service), gave the keynote address:

“Memorial Day is not a glitzy holiday,” he said. “It is a day of appreciation and respect for the values these service members died for, the freedoms they defended, and the mark they left behind.

“So I would ask all of you, regardless of your connection to the military, to take a moment this Monday to mark what has been given to us by those gave everything in the defense of liberty.”

Student veteran Megan Kennedy, a fourth-year double major in philosophy and political science, read a summary of Taylor’s page in the Golden Memory Book, including the circumstances of his death — by rocket-propelled grenade attack in Fallujah on March 20, 2004.

“Today," Kennedy said, "we rededicate our Golden Memory Book with Mark’s name inside, joining 134 other Aggies who like Mark had come to this university for the freedom that comes with education — and who died in defense of all that makes this country good, so that the students who came after them could experience that same goodness, that same freedom.

“We must remember that every time we walk in this building, this Memorial Union.”

Other student and alumni veterans followed with a reading of all of the names in the Golden Memory Book, as if they were coming from the MU's soul.

Taps closed the official program, and hugs closed the unofficial program, as ROTC cadets, veterans, students and others paid their respects to Roberta Taylor, Aggie parent and mother of an American hero.

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Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,

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