University of Toledo honors US veterans and family with Gold and Blue Star Medal markers
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At a Veteran’s Day unveiling, the University of Toledo was honored as the first campus in the nation to present both Blue and Gold Star Memorial markers. A Blue Star marker is gifted to honor those who have defended the United States of America and a Gold Star memorial marker is gifted to honor families whose loved ones died while protecting the nation.
]For UT director of military and veterans affairs Haraz Ghanbari, the unveiling was never about being the first.
“I’m not motivated by being at the top of the list. I’m motivated by doing the right thing,” said Ghanbari, who co-headed the initiative to receive both markers.
With the help of Ghanbari, Clinton Grantham, a fourth-year student studying social work and a former active duty Army member, jumpstarted a campaign to provide campus with two symbols depicting the sacrifice that comes with protecting the nation. Standing side by side in the Veterans Memorial Plaza, the Blue and Gold Star plaques stand as recognition to those who are serving, those who have served, those who will serve and the families affected.
“It was a long process,” Grantham said. “I had to jump through hoops and contact a national director to get the stars in place before their Veteran’s Day unveiling.”
Grantham said financial struggles arose. At $1,500 a piece, both markers were costly. After Grantham contacted local groups, the Lucas County Veterans Commission handed over a check for one marker while the American Legion Toledo Post 335 flipped a bill for the next one straight away. The immediate financial aid of the organizations depicted wide public support of the project.
With a large population of students at the university who have family in the military or who have served themselves, the markers act as proof of care and outreach from the community and university groups. First-year student Madeline Estep took notice of the markers after passing the recently endowed spot.
“I take it as an honor to attend a school that is so highly recognized,” Estep said. “Having several relatives with military backgrounds, it’s great to see some recognition.”
With one major project completed, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs has already begun brainstorming the next form of recognition. Grantham expressed his hopes for an additional project.
“I want to leave my mark once again. The names of the faculty and staff who served in World War II should stand directly between the recently erected markers. It’s another ‘thank you’ to our fellow service members,” Grantham said.
For now, the Blue and Gold Star markers stand ready and available for all students to approach. As the active and former service members on campus remain among the student body, the university will continue to demonstrate its support.
Ghanbari encourages all students to stop by the Veterans and Military Affairs Office located in Rocket Hall Room 1350 to learn what the group is all about.