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Fund Raising Continues For "The Veterans Honor Wall at Kaskaskia College"

By Tim Ferguson, WJBD News

Kaskaskia College has been recognized for the past several years as a “veteran-friendly” college by a national veteran’s magazine and it continues to work toward helping all veterans further their careers in many ways, according to Travis Henson, K.C.’s Director of Marketing, at Wednesday’s Centralia Chamber of Commerce May Luncheon. 

Veterans graduating Friday, for instance, will be so noted by wearing a special “Veteran’s Cord” colored red, white, and blue, while several will receive special awards and all graduating veterans will be asked to stand so that they may receive a standing ovation. The Centralia VFW awards their “Patriotism Award’ at graduation to a student honoring them for acts of patriotism  and service both in the classroom and in the community.  This year the award will go to a husband and wife team, both of whom had careers in the military.

Kaskaskia also honors area veterans with it’s day of “Enduring Freedom” celebration on Veteran’s Day or close thereafter.  Veterans are treated to a free breakfast and then a program of fellowship and relating of stories by their fellow veterans. Henson continued noting that one of the biggest projects the college has undertaken is the current  “Veteran’s Tribute at Kaskaskia College”. 

The Veteran’s Tribute evolved from an indoor memorial wall of veteran names started by college professor, John Bainey, called “The Veteran’s Honor Wall”, and it grew from a few hundred names to over 9,000 eventually outgrowing it’s space.  The initial number of names to be used on the granite walls of the new memorial will be 22,500.

A desire for a more permanment, outdoor monument surfaced, and, with the inspiration of college trustee, Jim Beasley, the Veteran’s Tribute project was developed and fund raising efforts began.  And, with the help of the college Board of Trustees, a site just south of the front parking lot was chosen.

Fund-raising efforts reached the point where ground could be broken on the project in May, 2012.  Shores Builders of Centralia was awarded the contract to build the memorial and construction continues today.  Henson says over $400,000 has been raised toward the project to date, about $100,000 shy of completing Phase I.

“One of the other things we are doing as part of the fund raising is we’re selling bricks.  We have 4x8 and 8x8 bricks.  The 4x8 bricks contain three lines of 13 characters each.  “8x8 is six lines at 13 characters each.  And we’re pretty much allowing people, I’m mean people can put whatever they want, put names, put family member’s names, friend’s names, company names.  But, it is something that will go in the Warrior’s Court , the center where the eagle is," said Henson.  

For more information, contact Kaskaskia College at 545-3000, or go to www.veteranstributeatkc.com .

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