Memorial Garden

Forward, Together Forward Memorial Garden

The Peaceful Reflection Garden consists of a gently curving walk set in a grouping of trees, a red granite reflection wall and a sculpture centerpiece.

Memorial SculptureThe walk is a graceful extension of the existing Cole Hall Plaza and campus walk system, providing two access points to the Garden and encouraging people to walk through or thoughtfully linger.

The grouping of trees provides protection form the Midwestern sun and a sense of contemplative "woodland comfort", offsetting the Garden from the open spaces and activity that surround it. The strong verticality of the tree trunks reach for the sky increasingly over time. Their growth and aging provide a dynamic reaffirmation of life and progress. Dawn Redwoods and White Oaks are used. Once thought to be extinct for two million years, the Dawn Redwood was re-discovered growing in the wild. A "living fossil," it symbolizes endurance and perseverance. It is one of the few species of conifer trees that sheds its leaves each fall, starting the following spring with a burst of new growth. The White Oak is the state tree of Illinois. Although slow to grow, this grand tree has a strong massive branch structure and is very long living. The acorns give a reminder of growth and future. Subtle evergreens are used to provide the evidence of life in the depth of winter.

Memorial GardenThe Reflection Wall has five stone slab sections of cardinal red granite. Each section is dedicated to a student, and together the wall embraces the unity and strength of the NIU family. Within the garden, each section of the wall is engraved with one of the students' names centered low where flowers and mementos may be placed. Higher on the wall and in larger letters are engraved the words "Forward, Together, Forward", words from the Huskie fight song that have so recently taken greater meaning. These words are also engraved on the outward side of the wall sections so that they can be read from east and west as one approaches the Garden. The wall sections are subtly illuminated at night with a respectful glow. Benches are placed opposite the Reflection Wall to encourage pausing and remembering.

A sculpture was commissioned specifically for the Garden designed to reinforce the serenity of the space as well as to provide a center of beauty and meaning.