Lampposts represent sacrifice of Baylor military men and women
By James Stockton
On Oct. 25, 1946, the first 84 of 144 granite lampposts were erected at Founder’s Mall on Baylor’s campus to honor Baylor men and women who gave their lives in military service.
Today, students walk by the lampposts, ignorant of their significance to the Baylor tradition. Deacon Frank Jasek, a book preservationist for the Baylor Central Libraries, has plans to change that. For 10 years he has been working on a book to tell the story behind the lampposts.
“I just wanted to put a face with the plaque,” Jasek said. “A name with the plaque; a life with the cold plaque.”
Like many universities around the country, Baylor lost students to the cause of freedom.
To help those left behind keep up with their friends, Mrs. Anna Martin, a Baylor professor of psychology during World War II, began a newsletter that would bring news from the warfront to the classrooms.
As the war raged, the news came back with names of friends, family and students who wouldn’t be returning.
So with the proceeds from the newsletter, which cost $1, and with financial help from parents of students who were killed in service, the first lampposts were dedicated for $250 each, the equivalent of $5,000 today.
As the campus grew, so did the number of lampposts. Today the ranks of the granite honor guard, another name for the dedicated lampposts, include another 19 military personnel who died in service since World War II and other beloved members of the Baylor family who have passed.
Will Dean, a San Antonio senior and fourth-year cadet in the Air Force ROTC, said all students should remember what the lampposts mean.
“If it wasn’t for their sacrifice, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today,” Dean said.
As a member of the autonomous ROTC club, the Blue Knights, Dean and his fellow members each pick a lamppost and memorize the contents of the plaque.
On the anniversary of the death, each member places a bouquet of flowers on the lamppost to pay homage to their predecessors.
Major David Lamkin, assistant professor of aerospace studies, said he agrees with the practice of the Blue Knights, who work under his guidance.
“As a part of our American heritage, it’s important to remember what came before us,” Lamkin said.
Lamkin said remembrance is important even for those who are not in the ROTC and have no familial affiliation to the military.
“I think it’s important for the heritage of their school,” Lamkin said. “For them to know there were people, alumni of the school, who also gave the ultimate sacrifice not just for the betterment of the country, but so that … their freedoms to attend such a great university were also guaranteed.”
ROTC students recognize the significance the lights hold.
“The lampposts represent the ultimate sacrifice,” Dean said