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New memorial pays tribute to POWs, MIAs

Northeastern will unveil a memorial on Friday evening at Matthews Arena in recognition of service members who have gone missing in action or who were prisoners of war.

The memorial, which features a black chair along with a plaque bearing the message “You Are Not Forgotten,” is the first of its kind to be installed in an indoor arena at a U.S. college or university. It is located at the top of section 12, in the northeast corner of the arena.

“Since World War I, more than 91,000 soldiers are unaccounted for,” the plaque reads. “This unoccupied seat is dedicated to the memory of those brave men and women and to the sacrifices each made serving this country.” The memorial will be unveiled at a ceremony at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena prior to the men’s hockey game against Providence.

“The men and women we lost to war deserve our gratitude every day,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “They sacrificed everything, and we stand together to honor their inspiring legacy.”

Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Northeastern administrators worked to establish the memorial in conjunction with the Massachusetts chapter of Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing awareness to and holding the government accountable for POWs and MIAs. Rolling Thunder has led similar efforts in Massachusetts and across the country, installing memorials at other public locations and in-state sports facilities such as Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden.

The memorial reaffirms Northeastern’s longstanding commitment to the nation’s veterans and aligns with the university’s national security research and initiatives.

Northeastern’s Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 2006, bears the names of men and women from Northeastern who have given their lives for their country. Located adjacent to the Egan Research Center on Neal F. Finnegan Plaza,  it serves as the site for the university’s annual Veterans Day ceremony.

Northeastern’s Student Veterans Organization provides student veterans with career services, advocacy, support, and other programming and resources. Last year, SVO was recognized as the Student Veterans of America’s top U.S. chapter.

The university has hosted an ROTC program on campus since 1950, and at one time it was one of the largest completely volunteer ROTC units in the country with about 2,800 cadets. The current ROTC formation, Liberty Battalion, includes cadets from several schools in the Boston area.

Along with health and sustainability, security is one of the university’s core research themes. Northeastern is home to the Department of Homeland Security-funded Center for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats and the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security. In 2012, Northeastern was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the National Security Agency.