Unfortunately on Memorial Day, more often than not, its focus is on an extended weekend, BBQ’s and drinks. We at PI, just wanted to say thank you to those that served, with emphasis on those that never made it home and the families that had to endure. With that, we wanted to focus our attention to the glorious Memorial Belltower, its history and the connection to NC State Athletics.
The Landmark of NC State
The idea of a memorial monument dates back to 1907, when student Vance Sykes wanted to commemorate those that had fallen in World War I. As with most large scale projects, it took time to develop. Committees were formed, financial raise needed to be met and final design approved. In 1919, the following proposal was secured;
“N.C. State College Alumni Association of New York suggested as a suitable memorial a clock tower permanently placed, thus obviating the blowing of the ‘whistle’ on the campus, [with] the clock to have a good loud striking bell and chimes…”
When all was said and done, the Belltower stands 115-feet tall, 18-feet wide at base tampering to 14-feet at top. The 1,400 tons of granite all comes from Mount Airy, in northwest North Carolina. The Belltower was completed in 1937, with it formal dedication in 1949.
Light it Red, Mrs. Fox
Here’s where we wanted to spend just a little more time discussing. Two weeks ago, Marye Anne Fox passed away at her home in Texas. Fox was State’s first and only female Chancellor, serving from 1998 to 2004. During her time she put immense amount of effort into the expansion of State, with one her biggest contributions being the Centennial Campus.
But Fox started another tradition that many State fans and students take as “normal” nowadays. She lit the Belltower red. The rest, as told by NC State:
Shortly after the widely respected plant biologist arrived from Texas on Aug. 1, 1998, Fox looked out her Holladay Hall office window to see NC State’s iconic Memorial Tower and wondered why it wasn’t used as the focal point of university celebrations, as the tower on Texas’s campus has long been used. She asked then-Vice Chancellor for Finance Charlie Leffler to find out what it would cost to light the Belltower red to celebrate specific accomplishments. It first started with home football and men’s basketball games, but the criteria has expanded significantly through the years.
Perhaps it’s small in the grand scheme of things, but turning the Belltower red was symbolic of Fox’s laser-like focus on advancing the university and its accomplishments.
Today and everyday we thank those for their sacrifice and continually smile when that beautiful Belltower is red.