Student walks through the War Memorial on West Campus as the sun sets

Campus Memorials Pay Tribute to Cornellians Lost in Wartime

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Those who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered throughout the Hill—in stone, bronze, glass, and even greenery

By Joe Wilensky

The University’s War Memorial, commemorating Cornellians who perished in World War I—then known as the Great War—was dedicated on May 23, 1931. The event, which made national news, included a live, coast-to-coast radio address by President Herbert Hoover.

“In this memorial, as in all our other memorials, we do not seek to glorify war or to perpetuate hatreds,” Hoover said, according to a front-page story in the New York Times. “We are commemorating not war, but the courage and the devotion and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their country.”

The War Memorial connects Lyon and McFadden halls on West Campus
The memorial is one of East Hill’s most recognizable features. (Ryan Young/Cornell University)

The ceremony wasn’t held on Memorial Day (then called Decoration Day and observed on May 30) but rather on the 14th anniversary of when the first WWI unit carried the American flag to the front. That unit, part of the American Ambulance Field Service, had strong ties to the Hill: comprising many Cornellians, it was organized and commanded by Capt. Edward Tinkham 1916.

“It was a vanguard of a mighty army of American youth that flowed across the Atlantic in the months that followed,” Hoover said. “In this army were 9,000 other Cornellians who followed Tinkham’s unit in the nation’s service. Two hundred and sixty-four of them did not return.”

We are commemorating not war, but the courage and the devotion and the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for their country.

President Herbert Hoover

Nearly a century later, the War Memorial—located between Lyon and McFaddin halls—is both a campus landmark and a gateway to West Campus. And it’s just one of numerous such memorials throughout campus, honoring Cornellians who died in other U.S. wars and battles.

These range from the memorials in Anabel Taylor Hall that mark the hundreds of casualties suffered in World War II (and subsequent conflicts) to other plaques and cenotaphs, some honoring specific groups of Cornellians—and others an individual.

“Here, in the scenes which they loved, you have built a loving monument to their memory,” Hoover said at the 1931 dedication. “We cannot add to their glory, but we and our descendants will be the better for remembering them.”

Read on for a look at some of the tributes—in stone, plaques, and more—to Cornellians who died in battle.

Anabel Taylor Hall

Detail of the top of the World War II memorial in Anabel Taylor Hall

The memorial in the building’s rotunda was first dedicated in 1953, noting the more than 500 Cornellian casualties of World War II. Forty years later, 47 other names were added: 27 who died in Vietnam, 16 in Korea, and four in other military actions.

It was rededicated in 2003, with two Vietnam casualties added; in 2019, the two Cornellians killed in Iraq, Maj. Richard Gannon II ’95 and Capt. George Wood ’93, were similarly recognized. Additionally, a gym for ROTC cadets in Barton Hall was recently named for Gannon.

Sibley Dome

The University’s earliest war memorial is a bronze bas relief tablet honoring the first Cornellian to die in battle.

bas relief tablet honoring Clifton Beckwith Brown 1900, the first Cornellians to die in battle.

Architecture student Clifton Beckwith Brown 1900 served with Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, perishing in Cuba during the Spanish American War on July 1, 1898.

Roosevelt himself traveled to the Hill in 1899 to install one memorial to Brown, planting two Norway spruces in front of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity; one still stands today.

Commissioned by the Class of 1900, the 150-pound tablet was created by Bela Lyon Pratt, a prominent sculptor of the era.

Originally installed in Uris Library, it went into storage there at some point and was lost for more than a century—until a DKE alum helped spearhead a search. In 2013, it took its current place on an outer wall of the Hartell Gallery in Sibley Dome.

Cornell Botanic Gardens

the Floriculture War Memorial in the Cornell Botanic Gardens

A trail, plaque, and bench within the gardens—just off Forest Home Drive, near the Johnston Trail—comprise a memorial to floriculture students and alumni, two of whom died in World War I and 14 in World War II.

The plaque dedicates the site “and the surrounding woodland” to their memory.

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Sage Chapel

While there are numerous stained-glass windows in the chapel dedicated to Cornellians, only two specifically honor those who died in wartime. Installed in 1956, they memorialize WWI casualties Chandler Montgomery 1912 and Wilhelmus Mynderse Rice 1912.

detail of the Sage Chapel windows honoring two Cornellians who died in World War I

They were gifted by a Sigma Phi fraternity brother, H. Hamilton Allport 1912.

Baldwin Memorial Stairway

The stairway, which connects the Delta Phi fraternity house (Llenroc) to University Avenue, was given by Arthur Baldwin 1892 in memory of his son, Cpl. Morgan Smiley Baldwin 1915.

Detail of plaque at top of Baldwin Memorial Stairway

A stone plaque at the top pays tribute to the younger Baldwin, who died in 1918 of wounds sustained in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, the last major offensive of World War I. It was dedicated on Armistice Day, 1925.

In 2006, masons replacing stonework on the overlook discovered a sealed copper box that had been installed at the dedication. Essentially a time capsule, it included some of Baldwin’s Cornell and Delta Phi memorabilia. Its contents were examined, recorded, and re-interred in a ceremony that fall.

This plaque in Schoellkopf Hall pays tribute to Charles Barrett 1916

Schoellkopf Hall

A two-time All-American quarterback, Charles Barrett 1916 captained the undefeated 1915 Big Red national championship football team.

He died in 1924, succumbing to complications from injuries sustained years earlier, in a WWI explosion on the U.S.S. Brooklyn.

A tablet just inside Schoellkopf Hall is dedicated to his memory.

Depicting him in his football helmet, it stands “as a tribute to his splendid loyalty and as an homage to a most worthy gridiron adversary.”

Veterinary Medical Center

Lt. Robert Irving Ashman Jr., DVM ’40, is the only CVM alumnus known to have died in the line of duty during World War II.

In 1945, a scholarship fund was established in his memory.

A close up of a plaque on a bench that reads: In memory of Lt (JG) Robert L. Ashman Jr. ’40 DVM

Half a century later, a bench bearing his name was added to the Medical Center’s lobby, alongside a display featuring his photo, story, and medals.

War Memorial

The cloister includes 264 names engraved on 16 panels—framed not only by the masonry of the colonnade itself, but by the landscape visible through its arches. The adjacent tower houses a memorial shrine.

detail of names on the War Memorial on West Campus

In fact, another Cornellian (Hans Wagner 1912) died in WWI, bringing the number to 265.

But since he fought for Germany, his name was not included. When the memorial was dedicated, some students (as well as a Daily Sun editorial) pushed for its addition as a “noble gesture,” but then-President Livingston Farrand declined.

Top: The sun sets over the War Memorial (Ryan Young/Cornell University). All images by Cornell University, unless indicated.

Published May 23, 2023


  1. Paul Kulig

    Always struck by the number of Cornellians who died in World War I. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

    • Jason R Gettinger, Class of 1964

      I had I similar reaction — I once counted the names in the logia. I think the high number reflects the fact that Cornell always had military training, even before ROTC. Also, many university men volunteered for training at a camp up in the Adirondacks, including Henry Stimson (a middle-aged Yale man who had already been Secretary of War). Finally, the American Expeditionary force, in order to avoid prolonged trench warfare, was agressive and mobile. This was very costly.

  2. Irene Hendricks, Class of 1986

    Thank you for your sacrifice, Cornellians. Are there memorials to more recent losses on campus also (Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea?)

  3. Jason R Gettinger

    I guess this is not an exhaustive list of memorials. I recall one to an individual named George F. Hewitt, an entry on the west side of either McFaddon or Lyon. Hewitt fell in World War II — I knew this because before I noticed the entry, my 1960-61 dorm floor counselor noted it was his half brother. Note also that Willard Straight is counted as a WWI casualty (also in the Atrium of the landmark University Club of New York), though this University benefactor died of influenza after the Armistice, while in uniform, serving on the staff of the US Delegation to Versailles.

  4. Carl L. Bucki, Class of 1974

    Having lived in the West Campus dorms for two years, I walked through the war memorial on dozens of occasions. Particularly at sunset, the names seemed to cry out a request for remembrance. Thank you for providing historical context for this experience.

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