Last year, like so many other students in first-floor rooms, Bola Olayinka '09 and her roommates regularly climbed through the window to get into their Little Hall suite.
But though they used the window frequently, they never paid much attention to the bronze star beneath the sill.
"I climbed in the window often so I ... knew it was there," Olayinka said. "I couldn't tell you the name on it, though."
In all, there are more than 500 stars installed on buildings on campus, marking the last campus homes of Princetonians who died in war.
To the professors and students who occupy Brown, Dod and 1879 Halls, among many others, the stars have become so much a part of the buildings that they're hardly noticed.
Nonetheless, they were a very intentional addition to the campus. According to archives in Mudd Manuscript Library, the earliest stars were installed in 1920 following World War I by the Society of the Claw, a group of members of the Class of 1894. The group raised $460 to make and install 108 memorial stars.
More stars have since marked the casualties of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Gilbert Harman, a philosophy professor who has occupied the same office in 1879 Hall since 1964, said he may have once known the story behind the star outside his window. "I have a feeling that at one time I did know," he said, "but I've totally forgotten it by now."
Lauren Ivey '11 said she hadn't noticed the bronze star on her Walker Hall window until it was pointed out to her but said she likes the idea behind it.
"That's pretty cool," she said. "Someone I sort of shared this room with died in an honorable way."
The memorial stars for the Korean and Vietnam wars were added to campus using funding from the fallen soldiers' classmates, said Jotham Johnson '64, director of stewardship in the development office.
"My understanding," Johnson said, "is that the classes themselves paid the cost of producing the memorial stars for each of their respective classmates who was so honored."
Gregg Lange '70, a member of the Princetoniana Committee, said that though most stars are still beneath the windows of the rooms where students last lived, some stars were relocated to West College before the demolition of certain dorms.
"Those actually came off of a dormitory called Reunion Hall which once sat between West College and Stanhope," he said. "Other than that, they are obviously scattered around the campus."
Olayinka said that the presence of the memorial stars make her feel more connected to the University's past.
"One thing I love about being at Princeton is the fact that it's so rooted in history," she said. "I think it's a cool nod to the people who were in our past. It's not just that we're here for four years; we're part of this great history and tradition."
For Lewis Dale '64, the stars are more than just a distant bit of Princeton history. They remind him of two friends he lost in the Vietnam War — David Hackett '65 and Brooke Halsey '66.
"Brooke was a sophomore when I was a senior," Dale said of Halsey, who served in the Army and was killed in the summer of 1969. "I got to know him pretty well when we both spent the summer of 1963 in Princeton, covering the Press Club beats."
Dale, who was a Marine infantry officer, got to know Hackett during training in 1966.
"David Hackett was our [Marine Corps Basic School] class' Honor Man, which means he ranked first on the basis of leadership, academic and physical fitness scores," he said. "Hackett started out as a platoon commander and became executive officer of his company, I believe, when he was killed."
The two first met on campus while working in student government, Dale said.
"I am sure that had he lived, he would have been successful at whatever he tried."
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2007/10/10/18924/