During World War II, the Secretary of the Alumni Association, Henry Redd, received many letters from alumni, both in and out of the armed forces, asking that plans be developed for a suitable memorial to the many VPI (Virginia Polytechnic Institution) men who were losing their lives in service of their country.
In August 1945, Roy F. Larson, of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston, & Larson, was chosen as the Architect for the memorial by the Memorial Committee.
The Architect and the Memorial Committee sought a site for the proposed memorial that would be near the center of the campus, and, if possible, on the parade ground where most of the war dead had received their early military training. The logical location was at the terminus of the proposed Mall, which had not then been built.
In order to visually enhance the memorial, in the spring of 1946, Larson recommended three men to sculpt symbolic figures inside and above the Chapel: Donald DeLue of New York City; Henry Kreis of Essex, Connecticut; and Charles Rudy of Ottsville, Pennsylvania.
Financing the memorial project came from the Alumni Fund. All funding was voluntarily given over a fifteen-year period.
Construction of the facility began in the spring of 1951, and was completed in May of 1960. It is 6,324 square feet.
The upper level of War Memorial Chapel contains Memorial Court, which displays eight sculptured Indiana limestone pylons. The eight pylons represent, from left to right: Brotherhood, Honor, Leadership, Sacrifice, Service, Loyalty, Duty, and Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). The names of alumni who have died while in military service are carved on the each.
The four left pylons were designed by Henry Kries; the right pylons were designed by Charles Rudy. Centered at the back of Memorial Court is a cenotaph, which contains the names of the seven alumni who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
The lower level contains a 6,324-square-foot, 260-seat Chapel. A chancel sculpture, designed by Donald DeLue, symbolizes humankind’s relationship to the creator with a central group, implying that something greater than humans is responsible for their presence on Earth. The left figure represents this relationship in daily life while the right figure suggests humans in communion with their creator.
The flags on the walls inside the Chapel are the flags of the corps of cadets and the flags of our Medal of Honor alumni. More detailed descriptions of these items can be found inside the Chapel.
More information can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.