New campus banners honor military veterans

veterans banner

Edward Verkleeren ‘62 and his wife, Cecil ‘67,  of Charleroi, Pa. observe a new banner near Keystone Hall honoring Edward’s U.S. Marine Corps military service in Japan from 1956 to 1958. The banner is sponsored by Cecil and sons Ron, Gary, and Jeff. (photos: Jeff Helsel)

by Gene Axton
editor in chief

California University of Pennsylvania hosted a test for the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge in April of this year. It was during this time that the spouse of a serviceman taking the exam made a remark about the beauty of our campus to Capt. Robert Prah, director of Veterans Affairs. She suggested one improvement: banners along Cal U’s walkways honoring the community’s armed forces members. Capt. Prah worked to turn that idea into a reality and a dedication ceremony was held on Nov. 4 for 33 banners hanging on the Cal U campus that pay tribute to members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“It’s an honor to have this, especially during veteran’s month,” Capt. Prah said. “Veteran’s Day is on Nov. 11 and this week we’ll be celebrating our 40th Annual Veteran’s Dinner so it’s an honor to participate in that and continue the legacy since the Office of Veterans Affairs was established.”

The 33 banners were sponsored either privately or by local businesses. Pam DelVerne, director of new media services, sponsored one of the banners.

“I sponsored a banner right outside of the student center for my late father,” DelVerne said. “It gives me an opportunity to honor his service in a very public way and it also gives my daughter and I the ability to see him there [DelVerne’s daughter attends Cal U]. It makes us proud.”

DelVerne attended the ceremony with her mother, Catherine Mikeo, 92.

“It’s something. It’s my husband… it means a lot to me. He was a corporal in WWII [and] he’s passed away already – about 18 years. It’s too bad that he’s not here.”

The family of Dr. Susan Rutledge, a professor of secondary education at Cal U, sponsored two banners on campus, including the banner honoring Col. Arthur L. Bakewell, a former director of Veterans Affairs at Cal U.

“I was in the U.S. Army Reserves for 11 years out of Sioux Falls, S.D.,” Dr. Rutledge said. Her husband is still in the Reserves and is currently stationed in Fort Totten, N.Y.

The 40th Annual Veteran’s Dinner was held on Thursday in the Convocation Center.

The banners will be displayed throughout the Cal U campus during November. They will then be stored for later use. The public is welcome to visit campus to view the banners.

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