Published: March 11, 2022 By

color guard holding military flags After graduating from CU, Philip Cudaback (EnvDes’88) moved to San Diego, where he worked in corporate architecture for 15 years. In 2007, he started his own firm, Lahaina Architects, which specializes in commercial architecture across Southern California. In 2011, he took on a passion project in Kearney, Nebraska, designing a memorial for the Central Nebraska Veterans Home, which houses 225 veterans.The $2 million memorial — funded by donors — was officially dedicated on Nov. 11, 2021. Here, Cudaback shares about his passion for design and the inspiration for the monument.

What was the best part of your time at CU?

I was always into architecture, so CU’s environmental design program was perfect for me. The education itself was very rewarding, and it also taught me how to deal with people. Outside of school, I enjoyed skiing up in Dillon. I met many lifelong friends at CU that I’m still in contact with. I still love coming back to Boulder and CU a couple of times a year. 

Can you describe the memorial's design?

The memorial features eight, 16-foot-tall service monuments, representing the branches of service, linked together by a horizontal beam. Around them are 16 smaller, 8-foot-tall pillars, each dedicated to military conflict dating back to the Civil War. Behind each service pillar is a U.S. flag on a flagpole. It’s an educational monument for people to be able to walk around, read about all the conflicts and sit and reflect. 

What was your inspiration?

“Shoulder to Shoulder,” the theme of the monument — is influenced in part by CU. The design’s purpose is to honor all veterans past, present and future. The design represents how all branches of the military and all veterans are connected and stand together as one cohesive unit. 

Philip CudabackWhat was the dedication ceremony like? 

It was an hour-long ceremony, with over 500 people attending. There was a ribbon cutting and the mayor of Kearney, Stan Clouse, Congressman Adrian Smith and Governor Pete Ricketts all gave speeches. I was able to meet a lot of veterans, many of whom came up to thank me. It was a really wonderful day. 

Why is this project important to you?

This project is outside of the work I usually do, but I wanted to help out the community, honor the veterans and just do a good deed. The veterans here deserve a beautiful memorial. It was a project I couldn't turn down.

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Photo courtesy Philip Cudaback