Thursday, May 19, 2016
WestGate Academy and WestGate Crane Technology Park held a ceremony Thursday to unveil two newly purposed parking spaces at the facility, one reserved for Purple Heart recipients and one for Wounded Warriors.The ceremony was planned in conjunction with National Military Appreciation Month as well as Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 21.
The ceremony began with Colors presentation by the Loogootee American Legion and VFW Color guard, followed by State Senator Mark Messmer playing “The Star Spangled Banner” on trumpet.
Guest speakers for the event included Brenda Goff from the office of Senator Coats, Jerry Parkinson of Senator Donnelly’s office, and Larry Ordner, speaking on behalf of Congressman Larry Bucshon.
The reserved spaces were the brainchild of Brian Romans, founder of the Romans Warrior Foundation, a Greene County organization formed to provide help and healing to veterans of war, first responders, and Gold Star families (military families who have lost loved ones to war).
Romans is a medically retired Marine, and member of the Lock & Key, a dedicated coworking space at WestGate Academy, created to provide networking opportunities and amenities to businesses and organizations as they collaborate on projects and create new business ventures.Romans was the final speaker, explaining the importance of the reserved spaces, and detailing the history of the Purple Heart, established in 1782 by the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington, and called the “Badge of Military Merit”.
Today, the Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy, and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.
Romans continued his speech with an explanation of the foundation’s mission, saying,
“This is not about me. This is about all veterans, all first responders, and all Gold Star families.”
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the reserved Purple Heart space, conducted by members of Indiana’s Patriot Guard Riders, who until that moment stood guard over the covered space, each holding the pole of an American flag.
The Indiana Patriot Guard riders provide military escorts for those killed in action, as well as many other duties of honor throughout the state.
The bright-purple-painted parking spot was uncovered, followed by the sign marking the designated spot. Directly opposite the Purple Heart space, on the other side of the building entrance, stands the space reserved for wounded warriors, the sign surrounded by American flags waving in the breeze.
“Today was a success,” said Romans after the ceremony. “In that we could reach an audience made up of various generations, and express the impact and openness of the Romans Warrior Foundation. We strive to help all veterans, all first responders, and all Gold Star Families.”