Close to 100 persons attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Rho Tau Chi (PTX) military honor fraternity’s unveiling of a student-designed monument to honor veterans of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The ceremony was held on Veterans Day.
The monument, “Answering the Call,” is sited outside of IUP’s Humanities and Social Sciences Building and adjacent to the university’s American, Pennsylvanian, and IUP flags.
“Answering the Call” was commissioned by IUP’s Rho Tau Chi. The honor fraternity has 37 active members. Most members are IUP ROTC cadets, but membership also includes current military and military-affiliated students and IUP students who want to support
these initiatives. IUP has 1,009 military and military-affiliated students enrolled for fall 2018, an increase of 77 percent since fall 2015.
IUP is routinely recognized in national publications as a “Best for Vets” and “Military Friendly” university.
Ali Ippoliti, an English major from West Chester, is president of the organization, which does a variety of service projects throughout the year to serve veterans, military, and military families. Ippoliti spoke during the ceremony along with Rho Tau
Chi member Angel Manzueta, a kinesiology and sport science major from Brooklyn, New York.
“This project has been several years in development and has involved many members of the fraternity,” she said.
The project was formally proposed by Rho Tau Chi and approved by university leadership in November 2017. Rho Tau Chi raised funds for construction and for a competition to design the monument. A selection committee of veterans, students, artists, and
administrators selected a design by student Anthony Bookhammer.
Bookhammer’s proposal for the monument was a tetrahedron shape with a medallion in the center, a bronze cap, and the phrases, “On shoulders of courage” and “We stand free.” In his artist statement, Bookhammer notes that the tetrahedron is the solid
form of a pyramid, and that “pyramids are associated with power, the triangular shape draws the eyes and directs the gaze toward the heavens, and many American architects used pyramidal symbolism, including on the US Seal on United States currency.”
Heather Kaiser, from Albuquerque, a graduate student in the IUP Department of Art and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, took on completion of the monument as an internship project under the direction of IUP Department
of Art faculty member Sean Derry. Kaiser is an 11-year veteran of the military.
“This is a way for me to give back,” she said. “I have friends who died serving our country.”
Kaiser stressed that this project has been a labor of love for her.
“I’m very connected to the monument, and I’ve spent hours upon hours working to make it perfect,” she said. “This couldn’t have happened without Sean’s knowledge and experience. His expertise allowed us to do all the work for the monument in-house, except
for cutting the granite, which was done locally. This has been an amazing learning experience—including working through incredible amounts of math—and has involved many students.”
Students Cicely Murray, a senior art major from Avella; and Katie Ott, a master of fine arts student from Pittsburgh, used photos from Kaiser’s deployment and travels to create the bronze medallion for the center of the monument.
The granite for “Answering the Call” is the same type of granite used in the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which offers an additional layer of meaning for Kaiser.
“Adding granite to the original design (which was originally concrete) also means that this will be something that will be here forever,” she said.
Members of the IUP Facilities group fabricated the concrete foundation for the monument and will create the landscaping around the site, including handicapped access.
The ceremony concluded with Ippoliti presenting Kaiser and Derry with honorary membership in Rho Tau Chi in recognition of their work to bring the monument to reality.