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Northeastern State unveils veterans monument and plaza on Tahlequah campus

A new sculpture on Northeastern State University's Tahlequah campus is made up of six bronze figures representing different branches of the U.S. military.
NSU unveiled a new monument titled “NSU Veterans: Serving and Communicating through the Decades" on Veterans Day. The monument was created by Oklahoma sculptor Joel Randell and is located east of Seminary Hall on the NSU Tahlequah campus.

Northeastern State University unveiled its new veterans monument and plaza on Thursday.

Veterans, legislators, and higher education officials attended the public unveiling of “NSU Veterans: Serving and Communicating Through the Decades” east of Seminary Hall.

Oklahoma sculptor Joel Randell arranged six bronze figures representing each branch of the armed forces and those waiting at home around a representation of the world.

"May we as one people be worthy of those who sacrifice and serve to protect our freedoms," Randell said.

Representing the Army is a WWI Cherokee Code Talker. A Vietnam War-era Marine trudging through a rice field was chosen to represent this branch. A Gulf War-era catapult officer, better known as a “Shooter” was chosen to represent the Navy as part of the monument. He is depicted providing the distinctive pose shooters make when signaling a pilot to take off.

A modern-day female officer represents the Air Force. She is shown walking with a flight helmet in hand having successfully completed another mission. In terms of rank, she is the highest-ranking officer on the monument.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also represented by a modern-day service member. He is depicted as being lowered from helicopter by cable, in a heroic effort to save someone from peril in the ocean.

At the center of monument, representing the home front and National Guard, is a woman carrying the American flag and holding a lamp high as a guide for the way home. The lamp lights up at night. At the top of the flag is a symbol to represent the newest branch of the military, the Space Force.

Randell's design was chosen by a presidential committee formed in 2018.

NSU's ties to the U.S. armed forces go back to World War I. The university currently has close to 300 veterans and their family members enrolled.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.