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CSU-Pueblo raises funds for war memorial

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The CSU-Pueblo Foundation held a fundraising dinner Sept. 30, for the renovation of the Southeast Asia Memorial dedicated to honor Colorado soldiers who died in the Vietnam War.

A member of the Marine Corps League checks in at the fundraising dinner for the Southeast Asia Memorial renovation. Photo by Ye Ming.

“We are very proud as a university to be a part of this important initiative that recognizes the sacrifice of those who paid their lives for the country,” Interim President Julio Leon said in his speech at the dinner.

Pueblo County will host a Veterans Day ceremony Friday, Nov.11, at 11 a.m., northeast of the Library and Academic Resources Center. The expanded memorial will be revealed during the ceremony. 

The fundraising dinner was held at CSU-Pueblo’s Occhiato University Center Ballroom. More than 300 people attended, including members of university organizations, such as Associated Students’ Government, ROTC and CSU-Pueblo Division of Continuing Education.

Leon also welcomed members of city and county government, United States Marine Corps League and various local veteran organizations in his speech on behalf of the university.

CSU-Pueblo was the first university in the U.S. to build a memorial dedicated to Vietnam War veterans, Leon said.

The original memorial, located northeast of the LARC building, was built in 1969 to honor the 70 men and women from Pueblo County who lost their lives in combat. The original construction of the monument cost $6,000.

Luis Valerio, a former CSU-Pueblo administrator and a member of CSU-Pueblo’s Alumni Association, thought the memorial needed refreshment to better serve its role in recognizing the veterans, according to the renovation proposal.

The expanded memorial will have the 630 names of Colorado men and women who lost their lives during the Vietnam War engraved in gold lettering on commemorative black granite slabs.

Benches, flora and lighting will also be added to the memorial, and the original space will be expanded to make the place more noticeable and inviting for students on campus, said DenaSue Potestio, president and CEO of the CSU-Pueblo Foundation.

The renovation’s estimated cost is $86,000 and the CSU-Pueblo Foundation is still looking for primary donors, Potestio said. All the revenue raised at the dinner was donated to the renovation, she said, but the amount of funds has not been revealed.

The foundation also welcomes donations from students, Potestio said.

The new memorial intends to provide students on campus a chance to connect with the history of the U.S., Potestio said.

During the original construction, students at CSU-Pueblo, named Southern Colorado State College in 1969, helped dedicate the space on campus to the memorial. Today the students here want to do the same, ASG President Isaiah McGregory said.

“We, the students of CSU-Pueblo, today in 2011, want to continue their legacy and insure that their sacrifice goes in notice,” McGregory said.

Although there were debates over whether the university should have a war memorial decades ago, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, former president of CSU-Pueblo, thought it was a perfect place to appreciate the power of freedom and the meaning of sacrifice, he said.

It is the responsibility of the university to not only honor the history of the country through teaching and sharing the past, but also to expand people’s perspective of the world they live in today, Garcia said.

Anyone who wants to donate to the memorial may contact the CSU-Pueblo Foundation at 719-549-2380.