The Golden Key International Honour Society hosted a Memorial Bench Dedication last night, a ceremony to honor students that have passed away while attending Sam Houston State University.
“The Memorial Bench is a tangible way to recognize what these students have accomplished,” said SHSU President James Gaertner. “This is a way to truly experience university life, because you are not only taking the services that the university offers, but you are also giving back to the university by honoring the students that have passed away.”
Megan Thomas, president of Golden Key, said the idea for the Memorial Bench began in the fall of 1999. She said former Golden Key president Nancy Brown had the idea for an “Eternity Tree” to serve as a memorial for students that have passed away while at SHSU.
Thomas said Brown presented the idea to the Student Government Association, but the idea was forgotten after awhile and never implemented into action. She said in that in the spring of 2002, the idea for a Memorial Bench was born, and SGA agreed to co-sponsor the bench with Golden Key.
Helena L. Banks, president of the SGA, said her organization was enthusiastic about joining in on the project.
“SGA thinks this is an excellent way to pay tribute to our fallen Bearkats,” Banks said. “Like this bench, their legacies here at Sam Houston State will reign forever.”
Gaertner, who was present at the dedication ceremony, said he was proud of Golden Key members for bringing the memorial to SHSU.
“I thought the ceremony was very nice, and a very good expenditure of time,” Gaertner said. “This bench is a very effective recognition of students that passed on while at Sam Houston State, and I am proud to be a small part of it.”
The Soul Lifters Gospel Choir performed two songs during the ceremony.
Sophomore choir member Khristen Dowdy said the bench was a good idea.
“This was a really nice dedication, and the Memorial Bench is a very good idea,” she said. “It’s always good for us as students to recognize fellow students that have passed on before us.”
Thomas said the ceremony went better than she expected it would.
“It would have been nice if more students had come, but overall it was a success,” she said.
Thomas said the SHSU Grounds Department did a very good job in carrying the bench to the memorial site and planting the flowers that surround it.
“This ceremony would not have been a success without them,” she said.
Ryan Hoover, senior assistant for Golden Key, agreed that the dedication went well. “The ceremony was very nice. President Gaertner’s comments were appropriate, the Soul Lifters did a great job, and the weather was just cool enough for hot chocolate,” he said.
The inscription on the bench reads, “In honor of those Bearkats who have passed on while attending SHSU.”
A poem by an unknown author was also written in dedication to the Memorial Bench and to the students that have passed away while attending SHSU.
The poem reads,
“You walked these lanes as we do now,
your footsteps true and sure.
And ‘tho you took another path,
your memory will endure.”