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’Merica and Mountaineers




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It’s almost time to honor America, so we’ve pulled together some of our favorite patriotic shots from around campus. Some are celebratory. Some are somber. But at the end of the day, these colors are what unites us, as Americans and Mountaineers.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Two members of the U.S. Army salute the American flag after raising it near the USS West Virginia mast and bell outside of Oglebay Hall on the downtown campus. Photo by Brian Persinger. 

The USS West Virginia was a battleship that played a significant role in World War II. On Dec. 7, 1941, more than 2,400 U.S. military personnel and civilians died in the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. 

Seven torpedoes and two bombs sank the USS West Virginia, killing 105 crew members. Afterward, the ship was refloated and refurbished for service and was the first vessel to drop anchor in Tokyo Bay before Japan surrendered. 

The mainmast was given to WVU in 1961 before being dedicated as a memorial in 1963. The bell from the cruiser arrived on campus in 1967. Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies have been held near the bell and mast annually since 1975.


Jim Downing
Navy Lt. Jim Downing. Photo by Jennifer Shephard. 

One of the oldest survivors of Pearl Harbor, retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing, was honored at the WVU-Iowa State football game in Morgantown on Nov. 4, 2017. 

Downing was aboard the USS West Virginia during its attack and authored “The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey through Pearl Harbor  and the World of War,” which details his military career and experiences through the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  

He died on Feb. 13, 2018, at the age of 104. 

Patriotic Mountaineer 

Mountaineer Statue Patriotic
The Mountaineer Statue outside the Mountainlair. Photo by Brian Persinger.   

WVU photographer Brian Persinger captured this portrait of the Mountaineer statue, with stars and stripes in the background, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2011.  

Winning the Gold for the Red, White and Blue 

Ginny Thrasher
Photo by Brian Persinger   

Biomedical engineering student Ginny Thrasher captured a slice of national glory by shooting her way to the first gold medal awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Thrasher, of Springfield, Va., took home the gold medal for the U.S. in the women’s 10m air rifle.  

The Star-Spangled Violinist 

Peter Wilson
Photo by M.G. Ellis  

U.S. Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Peter Wilson, a Morgantown native, returned home to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a WVU-Kansas State basketball game in 2017. 

Wilson is the son of C.B. Wilson, an assistant provost at WVU, and Mary Wilson, who introduced him to the violin at age 2.  

Saluting with Color 

Color Guard
Photo by Jennifer Shephard 

The WVU Marching Band Color Guard honors the U.S. military during football pregame festivities at Milan Puskar Stadium in 2017.  

A Solemn Moment

Marine vet Photo by Jennifer Shephard  

Marine Corps League member Dewey Nethken, of Westover, bows his head in prayer as he holds the American flag during the 2017 Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremonies at the USS West Virginia mast and bell.  

Remembering the Fallen

Vet Cemetery
Photo by M.G. Ellis

Though this photo was taken off-campus and at Arlington National Cemetery, a deep WVU connection runs throughout the 624-acre resting place for the nation’s fallen heroes. 

In 2016, alumni made up part of “The Old Guard,” which leads funeral ceremonies at the cemetery. For story, video and photos on those alumni, check out “Guarding the Nation’s Tomb.”