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Anticipation blanketed Memorial Stadium's east concourse Sunday morning.

The Nebraska National Guard's 43rd Army Band serenaded veterans and members of the public before unveiling two plaques to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

As University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green spoke, he acknowledged the 113 alumni of the university who fought in World War I, thanking them for serving to protect the freedom of Nebraskans today.

The 9-by-5 foot plaques hang on either side of the east stadium's original entrance. One details the life of Gen. John J. Pershing, a former Nebraska faculty member and commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The other lists the names of each of the 113 alumni, along with Nebraska and United States flags.

Lt. Col. Robert Schafer, chairman of the Nebraska Board of Regents, and Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Adjutant General of Nebraska, each gave their own thanks and acknowledgements before welcoming NU athletic director Bill Moos.

Moos exuded pride in the way Nebraska, both the university and the state, honors members of the military past and present. He highlighted the installment of the prisoner of war chair which sits empty on game days, guarded by a veteran, to honor those who did not come home.

With a smile, he acknowledged the chair's placement, seat 27 in row 18, was a nod to former Husker football players Brook Berringer and Sam Foltz. Berringer was killed in a plane crash in 1996 and Foltz died in a car accident in 2016.

"I've never seen patriotism like I've seen from this state. It warms my heart," he said. 

Michael and Deborah Moeller echoed that sentiment. The couple made the two and a half hour drive from Loup City for the ceremony. Michael, a veteran of the Marine Corps, was a POW in Iran for 444 days beginning in 1979 and guarded the POW chair for the Minnesota game.

"It's overwhelming to know the sacrifices that came out of this university," he said. "I am extremely proud to know Nebraska is one of the few universities that bothers to have ROTC programs and be considered veteran friendly."

Added Deborah: "We were so well received by everyone here. We were treated wonderfully by the staff. And for the people who just came out of the crowd to talk to Mike, it just made your heart feel good to be a Nebraskan."

Following the program, Green revealed a second veteran's tribute project. Beginning in 2019, the university plans to construct a display on the north side of the Memorial Loop to acknowledge veterans with ties to the school. The project with coincide with the university's 150th anniversary. 

Brooke Hay, the director of capital construction at the university, worked to plan the upcoming project with the goal of recognizing a group that often goes unnoticed.

"One thing we've learned about Nebraska veterans particularly is they are very humble and it's really in their nature not to ask for attention, but they are very deserving," she said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or wstone@journalstar.com.

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