Lt. Michael Murphy died a hero.
Now his name lives on at his alma mater, Penn State, as a tribute to his bravery and to the dedication of all who serve and have served our country.
On Friday, the new Penn State Veterans Plaza was dedicated. The memorial near Old Main was a gift to the university from the Class of 2011.
Murphys gift to all of us was his courage and sacrifice, his incredible display of valor on a hilltop in Afghanistan, where he lost his life in June 2005.
Two years after his death in combat, Murphy received the Medal of Honor. A naval destroyer was named in honor of the Navy SEAL.
Now, the Penn State memorials wall also bears his name.
Ryan McCombie, a Penn State trustee and Navy SEAL veteran, was among those who honored Murphy at the dedication ceremony.
Time and again, America has called its sons and daughters and sent them to the far corners of the world, McCombie said. And there, on the remote fields, on the distant seas and in the lonely skies, many of Americas finest paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Murphy grew up on New Yorks Long Island, playing sports and reading literature.
The Penn State Veterans Plazas design reflects one of Murphys favorite stories that of the 300 Spartan soldiers who took on a vast Persian army in defending their country.
At the center of the memorials circular walkway is a warriors shield, symbolic of the Spartan tradition of a soldier returning from battle either carrying his shield or being carried on it.
Michael Murphys parents, Dan and Maureen, attended Fridays dedication service in Schwab Auditorium.
The story of 300 fighters who died fighting to the last man for democracy in many ways shares a certain symmetry with this memorial on campus to our son Michael and to our Penn State brothers in arms, Dan Murphy said.
The Penn State Class of 2011 gift of this memorial embodies the very spirit that was exhibited by those Spartans and by our son Michael and his SEAL team on that fateful day in Afghanistan in June of 2005.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson applauded the Class of 2011 for its financial support and Ennead Architects of New York for the design of the memorial. A plaza design review board provided oversight of the project.
Everybody brought something different to the table, and the result is a powerful symbol on our campus, Erickson said.
The Penn State Veterans Plaza is a fitting tribute to all veterans, and it holds a prominent place on a main axis through campus. Its a place to pause, rest, reflect and remember.
We join the many who have saluted Lt. Michael Murphy and all of our veterans who are represented through this new plaza at Penn State.
We hope all who pass by that site pause to consider the memorials meaning and feel deep gratitude to those who fight for our freedom.