Every Day Is Memorial Day at the MU

Flag display on Quad, MU in background
Flag display on the Quad, honoring students and alumni who gave their lives in military service. The Memorial Union (background) is a memorial to them.


The meaning of the word “memorial” in Memorial Union will be in full focus this Thursday (May 24) when the campus’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony is held there. Built in 1955, the MU is a memorial to UC Davis students and alumni who gave their lives in military service — at first from World Wars I and II and Korea, and now extending through present day.


The term “Gold Star” dates back to World War I, when families flew service flags with a blue star for each family member in the military — or with gold stars for family members who died, leading to such terms as Gold Star Family and Gold Star Mother.

Sean Endecott Elliott bio page, digital
Capt. Elliott's page in digital format.

The ceremony — starting at 5 p.m. in the North Courtyard and open to all — comes the day before the start of the three-day weekend that includes the official Memorial Day holiday (May 28), honoring America’s military casualties.

Also Thursday, two flag displays — one on the Quad, on the south side of the Memorial Union, and the other on the Vanderhoef Quad at the campus’s south entry, will honor our 136 fallen Aggies dating back to World War I.

The ceremony will include the UC Davis Army ROTC color guard; the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance; remarks by Emily Galindo, interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs; keynote address by Army veteran Jake Smith ’03, who was attending UC Davis at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and went on to serve in a Special Forces unit; and a reading of the Gold Star Aggies’ names.

Taps will close out the half-hour program, after which people move inside the Memorial Union, to the Gold Star Aggies Wall where the names of the fallen are inscribed and where one name is new: Marine Corps Capt. Sean Endecott Elliott ’09, who was co-piloting a KC-130T plane that crashed in rural Mississippi last July, killing all aboard — 15 Marines and a Navy corpsman.

Elliott’s picture and biography also have been added to UC Davis’ Golden Memory Book, comprising pages for each of our fallen Aggies. The book is on permanent display at the Gold Star Aggies Wall, which also has two monitors for viewing the book in digital format. Framed copies of Elliott’s page will be presented to his relatives in attendance.

A reception will follow the ceremony, around the Gold Star Aggies Wall in the MU’s east wing.

Campus Recreation and Unions, which runs the Memorial Union, sponsors the Memorial Day Ceremony. The committee also comprises representatives from the UC Davis Military Network of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association; Davis Student Veteran Organization; Veteran Constituency Group; Veterans Success Center; Department of Military Science; Student Affairs; Operations and Events Management, Student Affairs Divisional Resources; Student Affairs Marketing and Communications; and Strategic Communications.

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Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu

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