EKU Honors Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day

Published on June 04, 2024

By Sarah Bashford

Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (OMVA) sought nominations for dog tag additions to EKU’s Fallen Soldier Cross statue in the new Veterans Memorial. During an event on Memorial Day, May 27, 2024, eight fallen soldiers were honored as their dog tags were added to the Fallen Soldier Cross statue.

“At EKU, our veteran student community is vital, bringing strength and unique insights to our campus. These soldiers go through trials and tribulations that many do not see. It’s our job to ensure the sacrifices they have made are not forgotten,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “As we continue to honor those who have fallen, we remain committed to supporting our veterans, ensuring their legacy of service is celebrated and their contributions are valued.”

EKU’s Fallen Soldier Cross statue honors those who lost their lives outside of combat. Dog tags hang from the statue in remembrance of someone lost due to a service-connected illness or injury, regardless of how and when, with the idea of creating a “wind chime” effect as tags brush across the stainless-steel globe.

The fallen soldiers whose dog tags were added to the Fallen Soldier Cross statue include:

  • Brett P. Benton, 1974-2011

  • Fred Edwards, 1946-2023

  • James Lee Farris, 1940-2017

  • Henry Gerald Gish, MIA on March 3, 1968

  • Rufus O. Harris, 1924-2006

  • Terry A. Morris, 1950-2019

  • Ben Tureman, 1924-1998

  • Clark Whitt, 1947-2019

Berea Mayor Bruce Farley said, “Memorial Day is a day when all Americans from all across our nation join together and say, we remember you, and we are grateful for your service. It is necessary that we remember their families and their friends who have mourned and continue to mourn the loss of those who gave their lives in service to our country. It is also necessary to remember all who have served, many of whom have lived with the scars of war, or injuries that resulted from their service. Those scars and injuries are often described as invisible wounds or enduring ones that were carried far beyond the uniform and were often factors in the lives and deaths of countless soldiers.”

EKU unveiled its new Veterans Memorial in Carloftis Garden in November of 2023. The memorial 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 statue.

EKU is home to over 1,600 veterans, active duty service members, Reserve/National Guard members and military spouses and children, as of Fall 2023. EKU achieved a significant milestone in the 2024-25 Military FriendlyⓇ Schools ratings, rising to the No. 2 spot from its previous position of No. 3. Additionally, EKU proudly holds the No. 2 ranking nationwide for Military Friendly® Spouse Schools, further solidifying its dedication to providing comprehensive support to the military community.