Memory Mall creator saddened by damage
Published: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Updated: Sunday, July 29, 2012 17:07
Memory Mall, a memorial of its kind of which UCF is the only public school in the nation to have, is a big deal to a majority of the UCF campus. There are people out there, however, who don’t understand the significance of it and what it means to those who have interacted with the military.
Memory Mall designer Don Reynolds served in the Navy, and his father served in the Air Force with his uncle, so Reynolds takes great pride in the meaning of Memory Mall. There are skateboarders, however, who love it for different reasons.
Students on skateboards use the boundary wall of the memorial as a ramp of sorts, which is breaking the marble stars and the granite top of the wall.
“Skateboarders have a way of having fun with anything and don’t have a regard for what they’re skating on,” Reynolds said.
The stars were handcrafted from marble that was imported from Italy, from the same mountain that Michelangelo went to in order to get marble for his art pieces.
Kristine Rudzik, a senior electrical engineering major, lost her grandfather in November of 2010, a month after the October dedication ceremony for Memory Mall. She said that it is a nice reminder that UCF cares about those in the military, including her grandfather.
“The fact that people are willing to deface [Memory Mall] is disheartening,” Rudzik said.
Reynolds has composed and published a pictorial book of the process of designing, creating and fixing Memory Mall. The amount of labor and expense for this project is one of great measure for a public university.
“Of course, the intrinsic value far outweighs the monetary value,” Reynolds said.
Jeff MacGibbon, a senior business management major, joined the Air Force two years after graduating from high school and now is an active member in the Air Force ROTC on campus. He served overseas in England from July 2008 to July 2010.
MacGibbon said it’s nice to have a memorial like Memory Mall in a prime location on campus.
“It’s nice; I like the flagpole and the representation of the branches,” MacGibbon said.
Maj. Dwayne Florence, an assistant professor for the Air Force ROTC department, served in the Air Force for 27 years before becoming a teacher. He takes his students to work out, run drills and work on formations at Memory Mall on occassion.
“I’m an avid runner, so when I would run around UCF’s campus, I would make it a point to stop at Memory Mall and salute the flag,” Florence said.
Reynolds was able to not only get the handcrafted granite stars from Italy, but he also obtained the granite on top of the wall from South America. The marble stars are embedded into the granite. Each step of this process took a great deal of time, patience and focus in order to get it done exactly right.
Reynolds thinks that to put so much effort into a grand memorial to appreciate all veterans and then have people who are willing to damage it forces feelings of brokenness and abuse.
“I have mixed feelings about being underappreciated for my service,” MacGibbon said. “A lot of young college kids don’t understand the military except for what they see from the media, which is mostly negative.”
Reynolds embedded small ridges into the wall in hopes to slow down the skateboarders and keep the memorial from being damaged in any other way.
“If they’re doing that, those students obviously aren’t in ROTC and have no concept of service to the country and have no idea what these students are about to do as far as sacrificing their lives, as well as people, like myself, who have served overseas and been deployed — wherever," Florence said. "If they do something like that, they would desecrate anything.”