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Veterans live on in Bridgewater College 'Honor Board'


A memorial honoring World War II veterans from Bridgewater College is vying for conservation funding from the Virginia Association of Museums. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

The World War II Honor Board is a five-by-three foot mahogany wooden shield with a hand-carved eagle adorning the top. About 360 spaces hold the names of students and alumni who served – with some empty spaces where the name plates are missing. Seventeen of those on the board were killed in the war.

Special Collections Librarian Stephanie Gardner wants to ensure that this relic, and the memory of its veterans, live on.

Stephanie Gardner is Special Collections Librarian at Bridgewater College

STEPHANIE GARDNER: I would really like to see a full restoration where we could have the cracks to the wood repaired, the broken name plates repaired, and also have the missing name plates restored.

Gardner said that, after the tribute was created in 1944 or '45, Bridgewater College identified other students and alumni who served. She'd like to honor them with their own board, as well as the 51 conscientious objectors who were members of the Civilian Public Service.

GARDNER: They were often very brave. Sometimes they served as volunteer medical test subjects. Sometimes they would take livestock to Europe, and that would be a very dangerous job in the wartime seas. And they also worked in mental hospitals, where they were revolutionary in the treatment of and care of patients.

The honor board has been designated as one of Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts by the Virginia Association of Museums. As such, the college will receive $250 for the board's conservation – and it's in the running to win the first place prize of $2,000, if it gets the most votes by January 27th.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.