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LSU Honors Its Military Tradition on Memorial Day

As the nation observes Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, LSU honors its proud military heritage, while remembering the sacrifices and contributions of U.S. veterans.

The university and the Cadets of the Old War Skule co-host annual events throughout the year including the Chancellor's Day Parade, the LSU Memorial Day Ceremony and LSU Salutes. These ceremonies offer a visible remembrance of the soldiers who have proudly served in America’s armed forces and gave their lives to preserve our freedom.

On April 23, Chancellor Michael Martin hosted his first Chancellor’s Day Parade, featuring and honoring the LSU Corps of Cadets. The annual ceremony has been a part of LSU history since the school’s inception in 1860 and is the official Change of Command Ceremony for the LSU Corps of Cadets.

The ROTC and Cadets of the Old War Skule honored former LSU students and all veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice with a wreath-laying ceremony at the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at noon on the Parade Ground. The program was a tribute to those whose names are inscribed on the Wall of Honor at the LSU War Memorial.

LSU holds the LSU Salutes program on the weekend of the home football game nearest to Veterans Day in November and includes the Hall of Honor induction ceremony, a military parade, static displays, a wreath laying and a 21-gun salute, all occurring at the LSU War Memorial on the Parade Ground.

LSU's military history began almost 150 years ago with the opening of the university under Superintendent and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. Then called the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy and nicknamed the "Ole War Skule," the university, located in Pineville, endured two closings during the Civil War before being burned in 1869. After relocating from Pineville to Baton Rouge and taking on the name Louisiana State University, the institution continued to build on its military tradition while still retaining the "Ole War Skule" nickname.

Established as a land-grant institution in 1874 as part of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which required all male students to receive basic military training, LSU required participation in the ROTC by all male students until 1969 when the Board of Supervisors made participation voluntary.

Although it is no longer a requirement for all male students to participate in ROTC programs, LSU still has an impressive number of cadets, both male and female, in its Army and Air Force ROTC programs and through Southern University's Naval ROTC program. On Thursday, May 14, twenty-three LSU graduates were commissioned as second lieutenants or ensigns in the U.S. Armed Services.

LSU's annual military events, along with other ceremonies and meetings throughout the year, are ways that the university and the Cadets of the Ole War Skule preserve and honor the ideals and experiences from previous generations so that they can be passed along to future generations.

Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2009