Military plaques from the Kappa Alpha fraternity house were transferred to Jordan Hall during a ceremony on Nov. 7, as part of Military Appreciation Week..
Kappa Alpha lost its university recognition last year after receiving an unaccredited rating for a second consecutive year. Members of Kappa Alpha, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and alumni from both groups attended the ceremony.
When Kappa Alpha lost its house, the fraternity members had to remove everything from the building. The members found two plaques of war memorials honoring four Kappa Alpha members who served in the army. The plaques had been in the Kappa Alpha house since 1960.
One plaque, from World War I, honored Delozier Davidson and Edward Crawford Davidson, Jr. The other plaque, from World War II, honored Eugene Bray Caller and Gilbert Deniston Gaus.
Several people at the ceremony spoke about the significance of the plaques and the legacy of the men who had served in the army.
“Kappa Alpha was one of the longest serving frats in the U.S., so when they lost their house, they didn’t have a place to put their plaques,” said John Abella, a professor of military science, said at the ceremony. “What not a better place than here, for them to show their military service? For us, it’s not about (the) fraternity, it’s to show honor to these graduates in a nice, tasteful way.”
Jacob Matus, ‘20, who is a member of Kappa Alpha and ROTC, attended the event.
“It was very special to hear the stories of these young men who lost their lives because, not only were they Lehigh students, but also brothers of Kappa Alpha, and members of the same historic ROTC program we are a part of today,” Matus said. “Even though we are a generation apart, our shared experiences inspire us to serve with the same commitment, (and) sense of purpose as they did.”
Bob McGrory, ’56, returned to Lehigh to attend the ceremony. He thanked the students in ROTC.
McGrory said though military service wasn’t voluntary for his generation, so the cadets in ROTC should be commended for volunteering to join the military and serve the country.
“Thank you for your training, and thank you for your soon-to-be service, ” McGrory said.
A pastor in Bethlehem, Robert Rentler, ’79, gathered the men together to say a prayer. He, too, was a member of Kappa Alpha.
Rentler said they should commit to a re-dedication of the plaques to the four men who served and sacrificed during the wars.
“We repent of the years we spent neglecting these plaques,” he said in the prayer. “We hope these might inspire others who might see these memorials. Thank you, Lord, for their patriotism and love of our country, which is becoming in short supply.”
Rentler then recited a hymn from 1867, “The Celestial Army,” words and music by Asa Hull.
The men all sang together, “They looked like men in uniform, they looked like men of war. They were all clad in armor bright, and conq’ring palms they bore.”
To close the ceremony, Abella said he was glad to see leaders present at the event in the form of ROTC members and alumni.
“Jordan Hall here on the Mountaintop (Campus) is open to anybody,” Abella said. “Our home is your home.”