DeKALB – Lt. Col. Jose Jaques had no words to describe the monument Northern Illinois University dedicated to its ROTC alumni Friday.
The Huskie Alumni Project is a wooden pyramid with each graduate’s name on a colored plate. A clay Huskie sits on the top of the pyramid. It will be coated in bronze and displayed in the Chick Evans Field House, where the ROTC holds its classes.
“I’m in awe of it,” said Jacques, a 1991 ROTC graduate. “I’ve always been proud to be a graduate of NIU, and to be honored like this, it’s incredible.”
The monument was unveiled at the ROTC graduation ceremony Friday. Six cadets graduated from the program to become second lieutenants, the army’s junior commissioned officer rank. The graduating cadets each pulled tape off their plates to reveal their names on the monument.
The monument was financed by 1982 ROTC graduate Thomas Bisping, who donated $13,000 to the ROTC for something that would benefit the NIU community when he died in 2007, said David Dosier, military science department chairman.
Renee Bemis sculpted the Huskie statue, while Al Stover served as the carpenter.
Friday graduate 2nd Lt. Konrad Dalecki said it felt special to be a part of the ROTC community. Dalecki will be going to school in Fort Lee, Va., to learn how to be a quartermaster officer.
“A lot of time and effort went into getting to this spot,” Dalecki said. “It feels really good to be done, to start serving the country. It’s special.”
Marcus Gernes drove from Minneapolis to see his nephew Edward Tolle graduate. Tolle has been interested in the military since he was a child. Gernes bought Tolle a shotgun for his high school graduation so they could go hunting together.
“We’re proud of him,” Gernes said. “It’s a big day.”
It was senior military instructor Tony Knight’s last graduation ceremony. He will be moving to Florida, and Rufus Beamon, who was previously stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., will be replacing Knight.
Knight said they train the cadets to eventually become army officers.
“It’s a tough challenge and process,” Knight said. “We challenge them mentally and physically.”