Westminster College students think it's nice to have memorials to Winston Churchill, but they are working on a project to remember dozens of people: Former students lost to war.
"I think this is something that is long overdue," senior Chandler Casey said. "Seven Westminster students died in the Vietnam War, and more than 60 in World War II."
To that end, a group of students led by history chair and professor Mark Boulton are starting a fundraising scheme to raise money to create Westminster's Veterans Plaza, a nod to Blue Jays in uniform.
"We're going to have a centralized memorial that will be visible to everyone," Casey said.
Students and Boulton, who has taken students to Vietnam several times (last year as part of the Westminster 7 effort), have organized an event. This Saturday, also part of Westminster College's alumni weekend, anyone and everyone can meet in front of the dining hall at 8:30 a.m. to participate in the new Veterans Memorial 5K run/walk. There is a $20 entry fee (all funds go to help create the veterans memorial), and commemorative T-shirts for the first 100 people to sign up.
"After we can demonstrate we can do this, raise money, I will go to the board (of trustees) and ask for matching funds," Bolton said.
He added an alumni, in the college's last ROTC graduating class around 1999, has kicked off the campaign with a $1,000 donation.
"That's already pretty good," Bolton said.
In an organizational meeting with eight or so students and professor Tobias Gibson on Monday, Bolton asked everyone to invite their friends to participate. He said, people can even register, get a T-shirt (they come in black, grey, burgundy and blue) and skip the run.
"We (want) feet on the ground," Bolton added. "If you can't make it, you can still register and get a T-shirt."
That also goes for the community in general. Everyone is invited to participate.
The new veterans' memorial will cost an estimate basic $15,000 to construct, and $5,000-$10,000 to create a maintenance fund, Boulton said. Veterans Plaza will be in three planting areas between Reeves Library and the Hunter Activities Center, and will include a bronze Battle Cross, a 16-by-14-foot atrium with museum-quality cases with rotating displays celebrating veteran's service and more.
Soon, people can also make donations on the Westminster giving page by selecting Westminster Veterans Memorial Project from the drop-down menu: www.wcmo.edu/giving/index.html. In the meantime, email Boulton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sophomore student Luke Cryer, president of the college's history club, said there are lots of plaques and such on campus dedicated to alumni.
"It's nice, but I think it would be nice to have something more universal," he said of this project.
Senior Brian Sellenriek added, "The memorial is a piece of American history, and also a piece of Westminster history."
Junior Jeremy George agreed.
"It's nice to honor our vets with a memorial," he said.
The Westminster 7 — former Westminster students who gave their lives there — include:
Harmon L. Remmel III, born Jan. 21, 1943, and from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was in the Westminster Class of 1965 and was a first lieutenant in the Army. He died Feb. 7, 1968, at age 25 in Phu Bon Province.
Philip Howard Sauer, born July 6, 1942, and from Coronado, California. He was in the Westminster Class of 1965 and was a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He died April 24, 1967, at the age of 24 in Quang Tri Province.
Ross Whittier Livermore, born Nov. 18, 1945, and from Germantown, Tennessee. He was in the Westminster Class of 1967 and was a first lieutenant in the Army. He died Jan. 4, 1969, at the age of 23 in Dinh Tuong Province.
Christopher "Pod" Podmaniczky, born Dec. 25, 1946, and from St. Louis. He was in the Westminster Class of 1969. He was a private first class in the Marines and died April 21, 1967, at the age of 20 in Quang Nam Province.
Patrick Lawrence Purdin, born March 17, 1948, and from Long Beach, California. He was in the Westminster Class of 1970. He was a hospitaliman (medic) in the Navy, attached to the Marines, and died Nov. 22, 1969, at the age of 21 in Quang Nam.
John Vernon Taylor Jr., born March 24, 1940, and from Fulton. He was in the Westminster Class of 1962. He served as a captain in the Army and died Nov. 4, 1967, at the age of 27 in Kontum Province.
Claude L. Curtice Jr., born Dec. 7, 1926, and from St. Louis. He was in the Westminster Class of 1952. Formerly a soldier, at the time of his death he worked with refugees in Vietnam and was U.S. Deputy Chief for Refugees at Da Nang, Vietnam. He died Jan. 30, 1968, at the age of 44.