The University Memorial Center is Colorado's “... living memorial honoring the service and sacrifice of Colorado veterans.” – from UMC Mission Statement, 2013
The University Memorial Center was rededicated as Colorado’s Official Veterans Memorial at the Veterans Day Ceremony held November 11, 2013, in the UMC Glenn Miller Ballroom. The University of Colorado Boulder, the Office of Veteran Services, the UMC, distinguished speakers, guests and the public recognized the contributions made by Colorado Veterans and active-duty service members. Featured speakers included Rear Admiral Kerry M. Metz, Commander, Special Operations Command North; Major General H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General for Colorado; Dr. Michael Grant, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education; Ben Purser, University of Colorado Boulder Student Veterans Association President; and Tyler Romero, UMC Board Chair. A Joint ROTC Color Guard presented the colors.
In 1947, Colorado Governor Lee Knous proclaimed the planned University of Colorado student union a memorial to “those who served in these great wars.”
And so the CU student center was named “University Memorial Center” (UMC) in tribute to all Colorado veterans, men and women, who have served or are currently serving our country. A Veterans Lounge, located on the 2nd floor of the UMC next to the Reception Desk, displays dedication plaques memorializing these Colorado veterans and University of Colorado students who died in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the conflict in Korea, the Persian/Gulf Wars, the conflict in Iraq and the conflict in Afghanistan. There is also a plaque recognizing CU’s involvement in the U.S. Japanese/Oriental Language School. The UMC continues to work with CU’s Department of Veterans Affairs to honor the memory of Coloradoans involved in current conflicts.
In the UMC Veterans Lounge you’ll see many original artifacts from the USS Colorado, the third ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 38th state. Among the artifacts are the Ship’s bell and stern pilot wheel. In 2002, the USS Colorado Alumni Association donated a waterline one-meter scale model of the USS Colorado, constructed by Dave Runkle in 1988. On November 11, 2004, the USS Colorado Association also presented the ship's 48-star “Sunday Flag” to the University Memorial Center.
The USS Colorado (BB-45) was undergoing overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor opened the Pacific War. She was stationed on the U.S. West Coast during March – August 1942, then steamed west to Pearl Harbor.
From November 1942 to September 1943, she was one of the older battleships deployed to the South Pacific to guard against possible Japanese offensive actions in that area. In November 1943, Colorado took part in the Tarawa invasion. She supported the landings at Kwajalein and Eniwetok in January and February 1944 and the Marianas operation in June and July.
On July 24, 1944, while bombarding Tinian, she was hit by enemy shore batteries, suffering serious casualties among exposed personnel topside.
Colorado’s next combat duty was off Leyte in November 1944, where she was hit by two “Kamikaze” suicide planes late in the month. Remaining in the combat zone, she supported the Mindoro invasion in December and the Lingayen Gulf landings in January. During March, April and May 1945, Colorado’s 16-inch guns bombarded Okinawa in support of U.S. troops ashore. In August and September 1945, she covered the occupation of Japan, then departed for the United States. In total, 93 men lost their lives aboard the USS Colorado during WWII.
Following transport service in late 1945, she was inactivated. USS Colorado was decommissioned in January 1947.