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Honoring JMU alumni and friends who served their country
By Michelle Hite ('88)
Emily Lewis Lee ('43) helped establish the World War II Garden Patio at the Leeolou Alumni Center.
Some events carry such power that they forever define the lives of those involved. World War II was that event for U.S. Army 1st Lt. Emily Lewis Lee ('43) and her generation.
When the Japanese unexpectedly attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with a call to Congress for a declaration of war. At Madison College, patriotic fervor reigned. President Samuel Duke announced leave for all faculty and staff members who left for the military — eight heeded the call. Madison students bought defense stamps, knit wool squares for overseas and collected tinfoil and tin cans for the war effort. Many quit school to marry sweethearts bound for Europe. Others joined the service themselves.
Many decades later, Lee is still vitally involved in the life of JMU and equally proud of it and the wartime contributions of her classmates. In 2003, she donated $50,000 to establish the World War II Garden Patio at the Leeolou Alumni Center and returned to campus for its dedication during the Reunion Weekend. The patio, featuring a bronze plaque, benches and flowers, is in honor and remembrance of JMU alumni and friends who served their country in World War II. Inside the alumni center, a framed plaque lists 110 WWII veterans.