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Memorial Union Memorial Union: The Transcendent Tower

Signs, Symbols, and Seals: The Sculpture of Memorial Tower

A Mizzou Legend

Robert McGhee Graham (May 14, 1892–July 27, 1918) and his friends wrote this poem, which calls for the construction of a student union and bell tower. A native of Montgomery County, Missouri, Robert came from a pioneer family that ran farms on land originally owned by Daniel Boone. Robert earned the nickname "Peaches” while attending MU from 1911 to 1915. The idea to build a student union originated during his senior year. A varsity football player (center position), Peaches was one of the most popular students on campus. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Agriculture and began graduate work in veterinary science, but left school to return home and run one of the family farms. Peaches was drafted in August of 1917 and even though the government excused farmers from service, he turned down the exemption and was commissioned as a captain in the U. S. Army. His regiment was sent to France in 1918 and he was killed in action while patrolling enemy lines at St. Pie on July 27, 1918. Over 3000 people attended his funeral, and the university honored the fallen soldier by naming one of the dormitories in the Pershing Residence Hall Group "Graham Hall.”

Robert "Peaches” Graham in dress uniform, Missouri Alumnus 10/1952 (Photograph Courtesy of University Archives, C:0/3/2)Robert Graham


The Memorial Tower

Build ye for us an ashlar tower
Four square, with high borne spires;
We ask no more, who died, mayhap in vain.
Braving the blasts of Hate’s Hell-fires.

Build ye for us a rough-hewed tower
With spires that point to Heaven and God;
Such our fate befits, who died
Nor winced neath War’s hot chastening rod.

Build not for us "Memorial Halls,”
Where joy-filled crowds shall dance and sing
Neath War-sad trophies hung ’round the walls,
Thoughtless of us, and pangs of battle’s sting.

Build ye for us a Stadium grand
To view thy school-days’ mimic wars;
Who traffics with our fearful fate
Degrades a holy cause.

Build ye for us a "sacred” shaft,
With spires that point to Heaven and God;
‘Tis all we ask, who died—
Who fell neath Hell’s death dealing rod.

And ye who thread the "Needle’s Eye,”
In base of this rough shaft,
Salute the shades enshrined here;
We, for you, have gall and wormwood quaffed.

Robert "Peaches” Graham and his "Buddies”
(Poem Courtesy of University Archives, C: 17/11/1)

Memorial Union Exhibition

Exhibition Home

History of Memorial Tower

Making the Memorial

In Memoriam

Signs, Symbols, and Seals: The Sculpture of Memorial Tower

Figured in Stone: The Arcade Sculptures of Memorial Tower

Tradition: Tipping the Cap


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