Cumberland University will rededicate a monument commemorating soldiers who were living at the university during World War II while training in Lebanon, including 21 men who died in a boat accident on the Cumberland River.
Soldiers participating in the Tennessee Maneuvers lived at the university from Fall 1942 to Spring of 1944. Over 800,000 soldiers came through Middle Tennessee during that time and trained in exercises such as river crossings, vehicle operations, and terrain navigation, preparing for combat in Europe.
The ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 11 at 8 a.m. at the new entrance to campus.
The obelisk shaped monument was placed on campus 25 years ago at the previous main entrance to campus and was recently moved because of the construction of the new entrance.
“It was this thing that didn’t really tell the story, especially catch the eye of an 18 year old,” said Jenny Bennett, a development officer in Cumberland’s Office Of Development. “So, when we had to move it, we just looked at it as an opportunity. We’re going to have a marker that has pictures and does a better job of telling the story. It’s going to be more interactive.”
Bennett said an additional plaque has been added to memorialize a group of soldiers who previously went unrecognized.
On the night of March 22, 1944 — the last night of the lengthy training maneuvers — a boat crossing the Cumberland River at Averitt’s Ferry capsized.
“Twenty one men died there,” Bennet said. “Only two survived.”
Col. Shawn C. Cody who represents the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (the brigade of the soldiers in the boat accident) is scheduled to be at the ceremony to read their names.
“Nothing like this has ever been done for them,” Bennett said.
The Lebanon Veterans Day Parade will follow the ceremony and begin on Hatton Street.
For information about the monument rededication, contact Julie Crocco at (615) 547-1269.