It has been more than two decades since a Riverside High School teacher and her class initiated the creation of a military memorial that has its own site at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Since the Log’s editors felt many alumni might not be aware of the memorial, perhaps it is time for a review of how it came to be.
In the late 1990s, art teacher Dr. Mary Porter and a group of her students were deeply saddened when they saw a video of an American soldier’s body being dragged through the streets of Somalia. They began designing what they hoped would become a permanent monument honoring “forgotten” service men and women: those who had perished in training accidents, peacekeeping missions, humanitarian efforts, covert and special operations, and terrorist attacks.
Intending that the monument would be on federal land in D.C., they planned it as a red granite pyramid with water flowing down its sides and trees surrounding it. However, they were informed by federal officials that, because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, security concerns had made the desired land unavailable.
Determined to proceed with amended plans, Dr. Porter and her group convinced the director of Arlington Cemetery to approve a smaller memorial on its grounds: a bronze plaque mounted on a red granite marker placed in front of a magnolia tree. Dedication of the memorial in May of ’04 was attended by a few Pentagon personnel, House of Representatives member Steve LaTourette, some RHS students, and members of the original pyramid board.
In June of ’04, a small “sister” memorial was dedicated on the RHS front lawn. Sadly, Dr. Porter, a victim of cancer, had passed away at age 57 in 2007.