Despite the color red plastered around the USD campus, it’s not usually found alongside white and blue. One student is trying to change that.
A committee of 84 USD students, faculty and alumni have proposed a plan for the construction of a site to honor veterans at USD. This plan was inspired by a student’s protests towards the lack of a prominent flagpole on campus.
There are only two flagpoles on the campus of USD that display the American flag: one on the main campus in front of the Al Neuharth Media Center and one in front of the DakotaDome.
During his first semester at USD, junior nursing major Krisztian Fasi decided he wanted to do something about the situation. Fasi first took action during the past school year by doing what he called a “passive protest.”
“I carried an obnoxiously large, 2-foot-by-4-foot American flag,” Fasi said. “My buddies could see me across campus. It was kind of nuts.”
Fasi, a Navy veteran, wanted more people to be aware of the fact that the stars and stripes weren’t being represented enough at USD. He attached his flag to his backpack.
“Some days I had to hold the flag so it wouldn’t smack people in the face with patriotism,” Fasi said.
Fasi’s efforts gained traction when he came across a group of people looking to create a dedication site on campus for past, present and future USD veterans. The group also hopes to show special recognition for the three USD alumni who’ve received the Medal of Honor.
The idea for a dedication came when USD alumnus Gary Conradi pointed out to USD Foundation president emeritus Ted Muenster during the previous school year that the campus lacked a recognition site for the Medal of Honor recipients that graduated from USD: Arlo Olson (1940), Joseph Foss (1939) and George Day (1949).
“It seemed to make sense to combine the flag display and the Medal of Honor display with recognition of all veterans affiliated with USD,” Muenster said.
There are no set plans for what the display will consist of or where it will be located, but the committee hopes to have the monument built in the grass area in between the South Dakota School of Law, the Beacom School of Business and the Al Neuharth Media Center.
According to the committee’s proposal submitted on Aug. 3, this location would be highly visible and easily accessible, with shelter provided by the surrounding buildings. The area is also set to include seating for students to sit and reflect on the dedication.
The committee has looked at other dedications in the state for ideas. Muenster said the committee thinks the state’s flagship university should have its own memorial.
“There’s one at South Dakota State University,” Muenster said. “They have two Medal of Honor recipients among their alumni. We have three, so we have 50 percent more than they do.”
While funds for this project will have to be raised privately through contributions, the USD Foundation has agreed to include the dedication in its fundraising goals if requested by the university. Muenster said it could take two years before the construction of the dedication begins.
“If I leave South Dakota before it’s finished, I’ll have to come back to look,” Fasi said.