Remembrance Garden honors U.Va. students who’ve passed away

Project has been in the works since 2004

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The University Remembrance Garden is located behind the Special Collections Library between Clemons Library and Newcomb Hall. 

Daryn Govender | Cavalier Daily

Student Council hosted the dedication of the University Remembrance Garden Friday afternoon. The garden aims to honor the lives of students who passed away while attending the University. 

The Remembrance Garden is located behind the Special Collections Library between Clemons Library and Newcomb Hall. Approximately 40 students, professors and faculty attended the dedication. 

Daniel McGovern, a Class of 2016 alumnus, played an instrumental role in creating the garden by working on it during his time as a student and member of the Student Council Committee on Buildings and Grounds. 

“I think the real victory of this project is that we created like a real place where there kind of wasn’t one before,” McGovern said. “Despite being across the street from the Rotunda, this courtyard has always been sort of forgotten in a way without any real identity or purpose.”

Assoc. Dean of Students Aaron Laushway said he hopes students recognize the purpose of the Remembrance Garden as a place of reverence.

“This garden will be for gathering, for possible remembrance, considering the lives that have gone before us and the lives that will go forward,” Laushway said. “It really is a place of thought and consideration.”

The Remembrance Garden features a chalk wall for individuals to write messages. It is located near a plaque installed in 2007 commemorating the lives of fallen University students and a bench dedicated to Capt. Humayun Khan, who lost his life serving in Iraq in 2004.

The plans for creating a place on Grounds to recognize these individuals started 10 years ago. The death of then-second-year College student Hannah Graham in 2014 sparked the creation of the final plans to establish the Remembrance Garden.

“For us, it was really when Hannah Graham died in 2014 that kind of started this project up again,” McGovern said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily. “That was the one thing that made us realize we really don’t have a place dedicated to that purpose — to remembering people and to bringing people together in one place.”

McGovern said there was a need for a more permanent place for students after Graham’s death to mourn and remember the lives of students whose time at the University was cut short.

“Facilities had to stitch together really quickly a temporary little memorial kind of in a panic,” McGovern said. “We should have a place that’s always here for when people need it.”

The completion of the garden is a result of a process that started in 2004. Student Council received a grant from the University last December to build the Garden.

Alex Cintron, a third-year College student and Student Council’s vice president for administration, wrote the resolution in spring 2016 requesting support for the construction of the Remembrance Garden. He said he is proud to see the final product of a project that has been in the works for several years.

“I think this is an example of student self-governance at its best,” Cintron said. “It’s very heartening as a member of Student Council to see that a lot of the work we put in day in and day out actually comes to life.”

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