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A Circle of Many Memories

An area of remembrance, Memorial Circle has been a part of campus since the beginning, but its role has expanded to include memorials for many people.

Written by Allison Matherly

Memorial Circle is the one place on campus that is in the collective memory of visitors, students, faculty and staff.

Memorial Circle is the one place on campus that is in the collective memory of visitors, students, faculty and staff.

Every day students walk through Memorial Circle, pass the flagpoles and listen to the gurgling and splashing sounds of Pfluger Fountain.

An area of remembrance, the circle has been a part of campus since the beginning. In spite of its early start, there is much mystery surrounding the reasons for the circle.

Memorial Circle is the one place on campus that is in the collective memory of visitors, students, faculty and staff. It is located near the main entrance to campus, and is to many a place of calm and quiet. When walking through the circle, the splashing of the fountains echoes around the circle and blocks out the bustling of students all around. It is an oasis of serenity within a busy campus.

Just a Circle

At the beginning Memorial Circle was just that – a circle. The unpaved circle marked the center of campus. In 1948 the Texas Tech War Veterans Association dedicated this area following the end of World War II. The monument in the center reads, “Memorial Circle: dedicated in 1948 by Tech War Veterans Association to all whose service has brought honor to college and country." The history of the circle before this point is mostly unknown.

In 1967 President Grover E. Murray requested the flagpole be moved from its original location in front of the Industrial and Textile Engineering Building to Memorial Circle. The poles are located slightly to the west of the center of the circle because of a tunnel that runs underground. The new location made the flags clearly visible down Broadway Avenue.

Cadets march from classrooms to barracks around Memorial Circle in April 1944. Image from

Cadets march from classrooms to barracks around Memorial Circle in April 1944. Image from “The First Thirty Years.”

Memorial for All

While Memorial Circle was originally dedicated as a World War II veteran’s memorial, it is now also used to commemorate current students who have lost their lives. These students are honored with the lowering of the Texas Tech flag to half-staff. The dean of students then sends the flag, along with flowers, to the student’s parents in remembrance. In addition, these students are honored at the Techsan Memorial, held every fall during homecoming week. The memorial ceremony also includes faculty, staff and alumni.

In 2001, the Student Senate passed a resolution that students should not walk on the grass in Memorial Circle to respect Red Raider veterans of all wars. Since the circle is considered a living memorial and it had long been a tradition for students, the senate requested the administration put up signs on the sides of the circle to notify students of the history of the circle. In 2002 the Pfluger Fountain was added to Memorial Circle. A dedication was held in April to honor the Pfluger family of San Angelo, whose gift allowed for the construction of the water feature.

In 2005 the Student Government Association began a campaign to increase student scholarships through its Paving the Way to Student Success campaign. The ambitious, student-led drive raised money for new merit and opportunity student scholarships by allowing donors to purchase a brick with the donor’s name on it. The bricks, highlighting three levels of giving, were placed in a sidewalk leading from the Administration Building to Memorial Circle.

Do you have memories of Memorial Circle from your time at Texas Tech? Share them in the comments.

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22 Responses to “A Circle of Many Memories”

  1. Randy S. Wilson Says:

    I had no idea the grass on Memerial Circle was off limits. Thanks for the great information!

  2. Ann Massey Says:

    I happened to be at the Home Ec building for a meeting one Sunday afternoon when the Ladies Basketball Team won the NCAA national championship game – students who happened to be on campus “stormed” Memorial Circle – cheering and celebrating. Had never seen that prior to that afternoon or again for the rest of my time at Tech. It was a enthusiastic showing of school pride!

  3. Charles D. Morgan Says:

    Since I graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1968, my memory is probably of 1964 or 1965 when the Red Raider football team beat the University of Texas for the first time since joining the Southwest Conference. The Saddlebags rang the bell all the way from Austin, as their progress was reported on the radio. When the bell neared campus, we all went up there, even those of us who were married and lived off-campus. We stood around the circle and cheered hysterically as the Saddlebags drove around the circle several times.. It was about 3:30 in the morning, and I have never been more proud of Texas Tech.

    As I recall, the Red Raiders did the same thing later that season to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

    Charles D. Morgan, BArch 1968

  4. Joe Clement Says:

    No memories. Pretty disappointed the best thing the Student Senate in 2001 could come up with is to copy the Aggies and have a living memorial. How………ordinary.

  5. Janet Johnson Says:

    I was on campus a couple of years ago and got to see Memorial Circle for the first time since 83. It is wonderful and quite a tribute to those awsome Red Raiders that have given so much for us either as a member of our armed forces, faculity member, or student. We should be very proud!

  6. Charles D. Morgan Says:

    Correction: In my waning years, I referred to the Saddle Tramps as “Saddlebags.” Saddlebags is my spouse’s trail riding group.

    Charles D. Morgan, BArch 68

  7. John McCoy, '70 Says:

    In 1967, the night the Red Raiders upset Texas in Austin, it was the first time Tech had ever beaten TU and in Austin to boot. Campus streets began to fill as the game ended on the radio. Carloads of students converged on Memorial Circle and drove around the circle two or three cars wide, screamin’ and honkin’ our horns. Then we drove around the circle some more….and then we drove around the circle….and then down the keys….and around the circle….and down the keys….and around the circle…… It was a very memorable and exciting night!

  8. Roy T. Grimes Says:

    As Chaplain of the Tech War Veterans Assn. during the spring semester of 1948, I had the privilege of giving the opening and closing prayer at the dedication of the TWVA placed on Memorial Circle. Unfortunately, many of my peers at that ceremony are now deceased. The 1948 Tech La Ventana features this event on Page 356.

  9. Brent Gibbs '94 Says:

    I love passing by Memorial Circle every fall and seeing nearby Will Rogers and Soapsuds covered in red! Makes me burst with pride! Wreck ‘em!

  10. Travis McClure, Class of '85 Says:

    I remember having a 7:00 am History class during the spring semester and walking through Memorial Circle early in the morning, still dark, to get to class. Usually almost no one was out yet, and it was always very quiet and peaceful. Once, it snowed overnight….heavy….and when I walked through Memorial Circle the next morning it was covered in about a foot of totally unbroken snow…..not a single footprint in it yet. It was still dark outside, but the snow illuminated the whole area… was really cool, almost surreal, and one of my favorite memories of my time at Tech.

  11. Roy T. Grimes Says:

    Please place the word monument after TWVA, A CORRECTION PLEASE Roy T. Grimes

  12. Kevin Baust '04 Jesse Baust '05 Says:

    I got engaged to my wife on Memorial Circle after talking one of her friends into leading her there after class. I had already graduated and flew back to completely surprise her. After giving her the ring we were immediately congratulated by many passing students who had seen the events unfold. Great memories.

  13. Jim Gaspard Says:

    I was probably one of the first Vietnam veterans arriving at Tech in 1968 having served a tour in Vietnam in 1966. These were times of growing student protest for the unpopular & un-official war, Tech included. I have always been proud of my service, and am happy to see renewed recognition of Tech’s Memorial Circle to all students who served. My four years at Tech were full of good memories such as the two consecutive football victories over Texas University. I was happy to give back by creating Raider Red in my dorm room the summer of 1971. Jim Gaspard TTU 1972

  14. Rodney Kemp Says:

    I was a member of the Saddle Tramps in ’67 and had to stay on campus the night of the Texas game. I listened on the radio. At the winning—my friend John Scovell had an excellent game at QB–I climbed the tower to the bell and rang it into the night.

  15. Judson Maynard Summer Carillon Series Plays Again :: Texas Tech Today Says:

    [...] A Circle of Many Memories [...]

  16. Joel Peterson Says:

    As a member of AFROTC during my time at Tech, I raised or lowered the flags at Memorial Circle many times. As a member of Sabre Flight Drill Team, we honored our country’s heroes each Veterans’ Day by holding a 24-hour vigil. This included the placing of a wreath and 24-hour guard, marching back and forth just as at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. It was such an honor to participate in these events.

  17. Christopher Beck Says:

    Roy T. Grimes Says:
    May 27th, 2010 at 8:10 am
    As Chaplain of the Tech War Veterans Assn. during the spring semester of 1948, I had the privilege of giving the opening and closing prayer at the dedication of the TWVA placed on Memorial Circle. Unfortunately, many of my peers at that ceremony are now deceased. The 1948 Tech La Ventana features this event on Page 356.

    In response to Mr Grimes. Thank you for your service. As Vice President for the Veterans Association at Texas Tech, we are proud of this monument. Not many students know the history and we make it a point every semester to try to keep students from discracing this place. We would like to talk with you if you are ever interested contact me.

  18. MJC Says:

    I remember walking to Holden Hall from the Chemistry building, or the U.C., or wherever I was coming from, in Fall 2001. A group of War in Iraq protesters took up a spot right in the middle of the circle. I simply wanted to pass by when I noticed the plaque (that is described in the article) was covered up by one of the cardboard displays.

    I decided, protesting is one thing, but covering up a memorial plaque with a sign – any sign – is another. Words became heated quickly, but the protesters removed their signage and carried it instead. Not sure what they did afterward, but, I am proud that there is a place at TTU to honor our veterans and fellow alumni that have made us proud.

    Another moment, under the arch of the Admin building, on the Memorial Circle side, I asked my wife to marry me after graduation. I could not think of a better venue than where we met and spent years together, or a more beautiful place in Lubbock than “the key” on a quiet summer evening. Of course, she said yes.

  19. Diane Luscomb Ham Says:

    In December of 1972, the Carol of Lights celebration was canceled because of a ruling about the use of the Circle for public gatherings (discouraging polarizing political events). A fairly good-sized group of us gathered and sang Christmas Carols on the Circle. I suppose we could have been arrested for such “subversion”!

  20. Jim S. Green Says:

    That Memorial Circle says something about the dedication of Texas Tech alumni. It has to do with tradition and “The Code of the West”. It’s not always that we beat Texas or A&M and even some of our wars are not won. But when in the events where we are not victorious and our friends perish in the struggle our spirit must find the courage to honor them and press on. That circle supports both of these factions and binds the hearts of Red Raiders the world over.And there’s glory in it for now and on into the future.

  21. Sheryl S. Becan Says:

    Memorial Circle was, and remains, a beautiful focal point for TTU. As a Tech grad, Class of 1975, I always felt a sense of pride seeing Memorial Circle as I walked to class. The addition of the Pfluger Fountain makes it that much better! For me, however, Memorial Circle now has a much deeper and more poignant meaning for me and my husband. Our daughter, Tierney Elise Becan, passed away on December 7, 2007, during her first semester at TTU. During Homecoming 2008, we attended the annual TECHsan Memorial service held in memory of her and others. It was a lovely service and a fitting way to honor and remember our daughter who loved Texas Tech and was a proud Red Raider.

  22. elizabeth rangel Says:

    I would like to know how to get the memorial Circle sidewalk names of those that died in WWII only.

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