In 1920, two Oregon Agricultural College students had an idea.
Warren Daigh and Tony Schille, both World War I veterans, wanted to create a center that would serve as a memorial for fallen soldiers associated with the college (now known as Oregon State University).
Their idea gained support from the student body and, after several years of fundraising and construction, the Memorial Union opened in 1929.
Eighty years later, the Memorial Union is being rededicated. A ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday in Room 109. There, a new granite plaque will be unveiled next to the original marker that was put up when the building opened.
Don Malarkey, a retired Army technical sergeant of the 101st Airborne Division's Easy Company, which was featured in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," will be the guest speaker at the ceremony.
And just as in 1920, students were the driving force behind the university's latest efforts to honor the men and women who have served their country.
Katherine Canja, the vice president of the Veterans Family and Student Association at OSU, came up with the idea of rededicating the Memorial Union this past spring. The senior in radiation health physics has worked with various veterans groups for three and a half years.
The student organization offers support to veterans and strives to educate both students and the public about the sacrifices veterans make and the issues they face.
"Basically, the MU was built on the behalf of veterans," Canja said. "A lot of students and faculty seem to have forgotten that. So I thought rededicating the MU would be a great way to remind them."
So Canja approached Michael Henthorne, director of the Memorial Union, about the possibility of doing that. As luck would have it, he was planning something similar to recognize the building's 80th anniversary.
That made joining forces an easy decision. The cost of the new plaque was covered by Memorial Union funds, and Canja and other members of the Veterans Family and Student Association planned Friday's ceremony.
"I think this shows students are more aware of the sacrifices veterans are making today," Henthorne said. "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have impacted a lot of them."
Canja said the new plaque, as well as the rest of the veterans memorial in the Memorial Union, will be more visible than it was in the past because it is lighted and roped off.
But her main hope is that every time students step in the Memorial Union, they take time to reflect on the purpose of the building.
"I just want students who use the MU to see it as a sacred place," Canja said. "To think about all the veterans who made sacrifices such as being on ships for months away from their families. Or those who died."