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Updated: Student Union statues memorialize UA veterans

This+statue+is+a+war+memorials+donated+to+the+UA+by+James+Muir%28JAMES+MUIR%29.++Muir+donated+three+different+statues+and+they+are+on+the+lowest+level+of+the+student+union.%0A%0AKeith+Hickman-Perfetti+%2F+Daily+Wildcat%0A
Keith Hickman-Perfetti / Daily W
This statue is a war memorials donated to the UA by James Muir(JAMES MUIR). Muir donated three different statues and they are on the lowest level of the student union. Keith Hickman-Perfetti / Daily Wildcat

Two veterans are working together to remind students of the sacrifices of American servicemen and women.

Three war sculptures by James Muir are displayed in the Rotunda Gallery of the Student Union Memorial Center. A dedication ceremony for “Some Gave All” and “Band of Brothers” took place on Memorial Day and the most recent “Shield of America” was installed on Veterans Day. The dedication ceremony will be on Dec. 7, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“To have these pieces accepted and recognized at the U of A is a tremendous honor to me as well as a continual affirmation that what I am doing is actually on the right track, that maybe I am doing some good,” Muir said.

Muir is a Vietnam War veteran and has been an independent sculptor for 32 years. He said he wants the student body to recognize that soldiers have been injured to “preserve freedom for this country and for the free world.”

These sculptures were created to “provide a visual aspect to the honoring of all the veterans and those who have served,” said Ricardo Pereyda, a junior studying public management and policy with a minor in military science. He also served in the army as part of the military police.

Pereyda is involved in the UA Student Veterans of America organization. He said his goal is to continue installing sculptures in the rotunda.

“It’s something that I really want to draw people’s attention to, because how many people actually take the time to look down here and realize that, hey, that’s not a dog pool up there. It’s an actual memorial,” Pereyda said.

The most recently installed “Shield of America” is a representation of one of the earliest crests of the United States, dating back to 1812, Muir said. He originally sculpted the shield on a 9-foot memorial called “The American Pietà” which was based on the Pietà of Michelangelo. This is symbolic of the sacrifice made for “human spiritual liberty.”

It also relates to the early concept of symbolizing America as a new nation, Muir said.

The sculpture “Band of Brothers” represents the sacrifices made by UA alumni, faculty and employees in World War I and World War II, and “Some Gave All” represents the same sacrifices made in Korea and Vietnam, he said.

“These are students, these are alumni, these are fellows who turned their back on comforts of this life and went off and died for their country,” Pereyda said.

His goal for the rotunda area is to make it a place where individuals can come show gratitude for their service members. He said 50 years from now, he wants to come back and show these sculptures to his children and grandchildren so people won’t forget about freedom.

“This is a sacred place to be and I think that as we continue to put more pieces up, hopefully it regains that sentiment,” Pereyda said.

He said he had friends who were 19, 20 and 21 years old who didn’t have the chance to come home, go to college, get married or have children. He said he wants to contribute something not only to their memory, but to the memory of all veterans.

“There are some people who are actually afraid of us, don’t know us … but all they know is, we’re the guys they send off to kill other people, and then when we come back we have to live with that social stigma that they create because of our jobs and what we’ve had to do,” Pereyda said.

He added that the cooperation of the university speaks of the changing attitudes toward veterans.

The UA’s SVA organization allows Pereyda and other student veterans to have a safe place to go and hang out, he said.

“Unless you’ve been there and had that experience, it’s like it’s impossible to explain to somebody else,” Pereyda said. “It’s been stated several times that you can hate the war but you have to care for and respect the veteran who fights, because this is your country.”

CORRECTION:
The story and the cutline in the this article incorrectly stated that James Muir donated all three statues mentioned in the story. The “Band of Brothers” statue was donated by Tom and Cheryl Lincoln, the “Some Gave All” statue was donated by Jim and JeanneKay Van Houten and the “Shield of America” was donated by The Human Liberty ARTT Foundation. The article also incorrectly identified Muir as a Vietnam veteran. Muir served in the military during the war but was never stationed in Vietnam. The _Wildcat _regrets the errors.

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