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UCLA Student Groups Create Interactive Memorial to Commemorate Veterans

An interactive memorial commemorating veterans, the first of its kind at UCLA, is on display in the Court of Sciences today and Bruin Plaza Thursday.

Organizers of the memorial encouraged passersby to write down the names of veterans they know, or choose a name from their list of UCLA veterans. The goal of the event, organizers said, is to get people thinking of what Memorial Day – which falls on Monday, May 28 – means for the UCLA community.

“Civilians sometimes take the time off for granted, but it should really be about remembering the people who have passed on serving our nation,” said Andrew Nicholls, a fourth-year psychology student and veteran’s coordinator at the UCLA Veteran’s Resource Office.

Nicholls served eight years in the army, and comes from a family with a rich history of service. He pointed to the name he had written on the board: “Michael H. Simpson.” Simpson, he explained, was a friend who recently died while on duty in Afghanistan.

“William LacLacblan, Class of ’50″ was another name etched on the wall. Second-year english student Dmitry Neronov stopped by the memorial on his way back from class to write down the name, which he selected from a list of veterans. Neronov said his mother works as an instructor for the military, so he appreciates the contributions of those who serve.

Third-year geophysics student Jacquelynne Vaughan kneeled close to the wall to scribble the name “Brad Parks” on the wall. Parks, a friend of Vaughan, is currently a second-year physics student. After high school, he went straight to the Marines and infantry. “He works really hard, and is overall a really good person, so I wanted to commemorate that,” Vaughan said.

Military Veteran’s Organization, Bruin Battalion, Operation MEND, Red Cross and ROTC are co-hosting the event. The boards are provided by the nonprofit Nicholls co-founded, KIA WIA Foundation or “Killed in Action – Missing in Action.”

This is the first year these groups have come together to organize a memorial board on campus. The plan, Nicholls said, is to keep these boards in storage and bring them out each memorial day to display. Nicholls said he would like the project to become an annual event, so that the UCLA community can connect with veterans.

“I hope the community finds something powerful in this event,” he said.

The memorial boards will be up in Bruin Plaza on Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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