Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) commemorated the newly relocated Veterans Memorial during a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Nov. 4. With key elements from the previous memorial located in Powell Plaza, the new Veterans Memorial in Carloftis Garden displays the American flag and the service flags to represent the branches of the military; a granite slate with the inscribed names of those who have given their lives while serving; benches dedicated by veterans and their families; and the Fallen Soldier Cross sculpture.
EKU's Veterans Memorial was originally built in Powell Plaza in 2004, with its initial creation prompted by the tragic events of 9/11. The new memorial location in Carloftis Garden, near the intersection of Lancaster and Park Drive in front of Martin Hall, continues to honor EKU’s fallen veterans and allows visitors to have a more spacious venue to remember those who have served. Additionally, the new location has designated parking available for visitors.
“As I look out amongst this crowd, I see so many who have given so much not only for this great institution but for this great country. Today is truly a day to remember, to have reverence for, and to recognize those who give most, those who give all,” said EKU’s President David McFaddin. “Serving those who have served us is not what we do, it is who we are. We are here to support you in the work that you do every day. If you're in Richmond, if you're on the campus beautiful, come, reflect, pay your respects and know that you are part of an institution that cares more than any other about those who serve us most.”
More than 150 people attended the ribbon cutting, including EKU alumni veterans from across the Commonwealth. The ceremony began with the national anthem, then included speeches from U.S. Congressman Andy Barr, Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe and Cathy Robinson, an EKU alumna whose father, Capt. John Curtis Stringer II, went missing in Vietnam in 1970. Following the unveiling and ribbon cutting, the ceremony closed with the playing of taps to remember those who gave their lives in the service.
“I have never seen or heard of a university that prioritizes military and veteran families more in the entire United States than Eastern Kentucky University,” said Congressman Andy Barr. “Thank you for your vision for this great memorial. As further evidence of EKU’s prioritization of veterans and honoring the 82 fallen members of the EKU family who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice, moving this to the front door of EKU again underscores the importance that this institution places on our veteran students and families. Ultimately, today we pay tribute to those 82 fallen heroes who have sacrificed the most to secure our freedoms here today. I will end with this, as we reflect on this ultimate sacrifice of these EKU heroes, let's remember those who currently serve in harm's way.”
EKU is home to 1,656 veterans, active-duty service members, Reserve/National Guard members and military spouses and children, as of Fall 2023; comprising more than 10% of the student body. With a long-standing dedication to veterans education, EKU has made the top three ranking in the Military FriendlyⓇ Schools review for the past two years and was recently ranked No. 2 for Military Spouse FriendlyⓇ Schools.
“I truly feel this is a place that our students will come to and so will all of the EKU community, but it's also a place for me and my family as well as our future generations,” said Cathy Robinson. “My father's name is listed on the wall also. EKU has proven to be an excellent school for all veterans. From their award-winning Office of Military and Veterans Affairs to their unwavering dedication to our past veterans, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has been responsible for the creation of this truly incredible memorial. It's been a true honor to get to share my father's story at a place he loved so much. EKU will never forget the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country.”