Memorial Hall was built in 1950, with the purpose of becoming the Student Union and Lounge. It was constructed with a classic prairie style architecture, using limestone from the local quarries. The Board of Regents, at the time, named the building Memorial Hall to memorialize the men and women of Southeast Missouri State University who served in all branches of the United Stated Armed Forces, especially those who served in World War II.
Originally, Memorial Hall housed the School Museum, which is now the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum. Before being moved to the River Campus, in the fall of 2007, the museum was a huge cultural focal point of both Southeast Missouri State University and the Cape Girardeau community.
Today, Memorial Hall is the home of the University Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Information Technology Department, and the Math Lab. As of the fall of 2014, it also houses the Center for Writing Excellence, but more importantly, it still stands as a beacon of remembrance and honor for the many Veterans that have walked the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.
Hanging under the American flag (not fully depicted) is a drawing which depicts the “Three Soldiers” Vietnam Memorial Statue, in Washington, D.C. The artist is Tom Seematter, and the picture was donated by the Communication Workers of America – Local 3616.
Displayed under the picture is a bronze plaque, which was donated by the Pearce Corporation, in October of 1975. The plaque was dedicated on October 27, 1975, and is located in the University Center, on the third floor. The plaque is meant to honor and recognize the names of the 28 Southeast Missouri State University alumni who served and died in the second Indochina Conflict (Vietnam War). One of the names of the Veterans on the plaque, George Kenton Sisler, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, for valor and heroism for his actions during the Vietnam War.
The World War I (WWI) plaque was unveiled on October 25, 1923, and is located on the first floor of Academic Hall. Its purpose is to honor the Southeast alumni (17 men and one woman) who lost their lives during WWI. After the war ended, the original plan was to build a memorial arch made of limestone and a driveway that would serve as an entryway to the campus. Instead, due to a lack of funding and resources, a plaque was created to honor the fallen.
The John Rodes Roth plaque and tree were dedicated to the memory of PFC John Rodes Roth. Roth was killed in action during World War II, in Neustadt, Germany, on March 21, 1945. This memorial was donated by the River Hills Garden Club, but the date of its creation and dedication is unknown. This memorial is located to the south of Carnahan Hall, on outskirts of the Academic Terraces, on the main campus.
On the morning of April 26th, 1863, Confederate Brigade General John S. Marmaduke emerged with his 5,000 man cavalry division and attacked the town of Cape Girardeau, in the hopes of capturing vital supplies. After three days of fighting, the Union defensive force was victorious. This battle would later become known as the Battle of Cape Girardeau. Nearly a decade later, one of the four Union defensive positions which defended the city, Fort B, was chosen for the site of the main campus today. A memorial for Fort B was thus created and can be found on Normal Road between Academic Hall and Kent Library. The informational plaque about the Battle of Cape Girardeau can be found on the corner of Kent Library.
Fort B was one of the four Civil War fortifications in Cape Girardeau. It was erected by Federal troops in 1861, to guard the Perryville and Jackson roads. Its garrison fought in the Battle of Cape Girardeau, on April 26, 1863. In 1873, the site of old Fort B was chosen for the campus of what is today Southeast Missouri State University. This memorial is located in the median between both halves of Normal Road, which lies between Academic Hall and Kent Library.
For additional information about Cape Girardeau forts and Civil War battle, please visit Legends of America: Missouri Legends webpage.