By Susan Burns
How many times have you walked into the IMU through the Alumni Hall door and turned right? Starbucks greets us to the left, but what about that quiet, chapel-like room to the right as we walk toward the comfy South Lounge? Inside is a document that records the names of more than 25,000 men and women who served in the various branches of the military. Next time you are there, drop in to appreciate the peace.
Herman B Wells gave voice to the feeling of the Memorial Room when it was dedicated in 1961, saying “What man, in his inner self, does not have a small room of memory, where, if he stops to look, are stored reminders of the things in his life which have made it full of wonder in the having of them, and of sorrow at their loss?”
The Memorial Room and its roster of service was part of the rationale for the public giving, including a hefty $1.6 million given by the students and alumni in 1922 through 1926, was to not only provide new spaces for students to meet, but to honor the service of the many veterans of the recent “war to end all wars.” The post-war military terminology had become so common, that it weaves through the old records. According to documents in the IU Archives,
“Students and alumni actively participated in the leadership and work of these drives. In the summer of 1926, at the prompting of President Bryan, those who had worked on the various campaigns joined together to provide continued services to Indiana University as the Memorial Regiment.
“The Memorial Regiment formed an important link between the Memorial Fund Campaign and the University Interests Committee in that the latter drew on Regiment members to lead their campaign among Indiana legislators for increased financial support for Indiana University. Several Memorial Regiment members also became founding members of the Indiana University Foundation in 1936.”
The Golden Book is actually 152 pages bound in deep blue leather. The pages have grown fragile, so it is no longer open for students to browse freely. The hand-written list begins with the War of 1812 – predating the formation of the state in 1816 – and continues to the present. It continues with The Blackhawk War, the Mexican War, the long lists from the Civil War, then the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Mexican Border Policing, World War I and Word War II. The University has more recently updated and augmented the roster of the honored dead with a digitized version that carries on the record-keeping and is searchable from this website.