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Published: Wednesday, 9/9/2009

University of Toledo Veterans Memorial Plaza to be ready for Nov. 11

BLADE STAFF

An outdoor memorial to honor veterans - one that will include engraved plaques, flagpoles, and benches - will soon take shape at the University of Toledo.

The Veterans Plaza will be created in a circular monument cut into the hillside between University Hall and the newly renovated Memorial Fieldhouse.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday for the $250,000 monument, which is being paid for through donations and in-kind gifts to the UT Foundation.

"A lot of people think it's just honoring UT students who are veterans, but it's actually communitywide," said Vern Snyder, UT's vice president for institutional advancement. "That has always been our goal. Not just UT, but the entire community."

The project has been four years in the making, but an acelerated construction schedule is set so that the Veterans Plaza is complete for Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Mr. Snyder said.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs, who served in the Marine Corps, said the memorial will be a place where the university and greater Toledo communities can meditate and reflect.

"I hope that people can sit there and relax and feel a sense of gratitude," he said. "I feel deeply we owe a lot to previous generations. We have a huge duty of gratitude and I don't know if we annunciate it quite enough."

The Veterans Plaza is not a memorial specifically for fallen soldiers, but anyone who has served the country, Mr. Snyder said.

"It's important to remember," he said. "Some of your classmates walking next to you with their backpacks are veterans of the Iraq war, so it's important to remember that too."

Those who contribute $1,000 toward funding the plaza can customize a plaque for the wall to honor a veteran. Nameplates are sold for $100.

A $100,000 bequest from Betty Rapp Tarr, a 1937 UT alumna, contributed toward the plaza, as did a $50,000 gift from Buckeye CableSystem and Buckeye TeleSystem, in cooperation with The Blade, subsidiaries of Block Communications Inc.

And a number of construction firms with the Association of General Contractors have pledged in-kind gifts to build the plaza and provide the flagpoles and benches.

W.H. "Chip" Carstensen, president and general manager of Buckeye CableSystem, who will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony, said the memorial will be a community asset.

"It's fitting the Veterans Plaza has a prominent spot on a beautiful campus to honor all those who served our country," he said. "I think it's the perfect spot for it. It's in a spot where students, faculty, and the pubic walk by on a repeated basis. It's just fitting."

- Meghan Gilbert



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