The seven-and-a-half ton granitic boulder has been in its current state for millions of years, maybe even a billion, having migrated down from Canada during the last Ice Age and landing in Ohio’s Welsh Hills. But the men whose names are bronzed on the stone’s face were part of this world for much shorter durations, some no more than two decades. They were the 70 known Denisonians—from John Anderson, Class of 1858, to Howard Pyle Jr., Class of 1970—who made the ultimate sacrifice during military service, and who are now memorialized on this Honor Stone, which was placed outside Swasey Chapel last fall.
Sandy Thomson ’59, a Marine veteran, is one of the Denison trustees who most hoped to see this idea come to reality. As he explained at the Honor Stone dedication during Homecoming ’06, his desire was fueled in part by sentiments for his father, who died in Northern Africa during World War II. “As a boy, I couldn’t go to honor him at the distant place where he died, far from my small town in Ohio, but I could go to our war memorial, where his name was listed and where I could remember him.” Thomson wants this memorial to serve a similar purpose for the Denison community.
College President Dale Knobel clarified that “this marker supplements, but in no way supersedes, the tablet in the narthex of the chapel,” which only records those who died in World War II. Other markers around campus refer to particular conflicts or individuals, but the trustees felt the need to have a single place where all such service was marked and honored. Knobel said that if any names are found from earlier conflicts that are not on the Honor Stone, they will be added; “it is our prayer that few, if any, will be added in days to come, but if that occasion arises, we will honor them here as well.”