With the political turmoil and overall unrest in the world, SUU Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets Dalan and Mckenzie Bennett saw an opportunity to remind everyone of the bigger picture.
Scrolling through Facebook one day, Dalan came across a Prisoner of War / Missing in Action “Chair of Honor” at Gillette field in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the Patriots. In conjunction with his EDGE project, the ROTC Cadets reached out to the group responsible for donating the chair at Gillette Field, Rolling Thunder.
The Bennett’s motivation behind getting the chair installed inside Eccles Coliseum stems from their patriotic upbringings. Aside from their school project, Dalan and Mckenzie have also seen the recent decline in patriotism and felt that this could serve as a reminder of the sacrifice given by so many.
“We just wanted to bring (the chair) in remembrance to a place that people go to have fun,” Dalan said. “So every time someone walks by, they take a second to recount the sacrifices of others; and the reason they’re able to sit there in peace that night is because of someone (else) that sacrificed.”
Located on the south end of Eccles Coliseum, the year-long project was unveiled on Oct. 6, as President Scott L. Wyatt and retired Navy Capt. Ronald Lewis addressed attendees. Since World War II, there have been over 82,000 soldiers unaccounted for and the Bennetts hope this gesture expresses their gratitude.
“A lot of military members come home and struggled or have died (in service), but this chair is about prisoners of war and those missing in action,” Dalan said. “It’s a very specific group of service members that have suffered immensely.”
The two students and ROTC Cadets were able to pull off this large feat with support from the SUU Veterans Resource and Support Center. Army veteran Billy Adsitt, a senior aviation management major from Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina, expressed what the Chair of Honor means to him as someone who has served in Iraq and remains active in the reserves.
“A visible memorial… that somebody did, in fact, go out and make a sacrifice bigger than themselves for someone they don’t even know,” Adsitt said of the chair.
Students are beginning to take notice of the chair and what it stands for. As the SUU football team continues to win at home, bigger and bigger crowds fill in the Coliseum’s seats. SUU Coordinator of Completion and Student Success, Ryan Bailey, thinks that this memorial is more than doing its job.
“It helps us remember that a privilege to higher education and the opportunity to go out and enjoy a Saturday afternoon and watch football is something that should be a little bit more,” Bailey said. “It’s cool to honor those folks that came back, but it’s special to honor those that might not have.”
For more information about the Chair of Honor, visit powmiachairofhonor.org. To inquire about adding a Chair of Honor to a different venue, visit:
Colton Gordon for SUU News