What's the inscription on the wall of the Veterans Plaza at University Park

What's up with that?

photo of the inscription on the wall of Veterans Plaza at University Park by Nick Sloff '92 A&A


The text on the curved wall of the Veterans Plaza near Old Main is a Greek saying that translates to “with your shield or on it.” The phrase, according to the Greek philosopher Plutarch, was believed to have been spoken by Spartan mothers to their sons as they went off to battle, with the implication that they would return either victorious or carried home on their shields. The plaza, the gift of the Class of 2011, is dedicated to Penn State’s veterans, including Lt. Michael Murphy ’98 Lib, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action in 2005 and who is the only alumnus to receive the Medal of Honor. The 2011 class gift committee received more than 100 submitted gift ideas, according to class president Benjamin Witt ’11 Sci, and the class selected the plaza from a final group of three. More than 3,000 donors contributed to the gift, and the funds raised exceeded $260,000, the fourth-largest amount raised for a Penn State class gift. Murphy’s parents, Daniel and Maureen, attended a dedication ceremony for the plaza in 2012. “Penn State is built on service and giving, and being a veteran or related to a veteran is a whole other level of giving and sacrifice,” Witt says. “The sacrifice is well represented at the university, but there was not a key location to recognize that. The plaza kind of unified that in such a core part of campus.”