The walls of Valparaiso High School now honor graduates who served in the military. Superintendent Jim McCall had an idea, and Valparaiso Community Schools Community Engagement Director Don Clark, an Air Force veteran, executed the vision.
Local elected officials, representatives from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 988 and American Legion Post 94, honored veterans, and representatives of all branches of the military were in attendance as the Valparaiso High School Hall of Honor was unveiled Wednesday. The VHS band played the national anthem and Armed Forces Medley, and members of the VFW posted colors.
“This exhibit serves to honor those VHS graduates who have taken the oath in service to our country and inspire those who walk its halls now” said McCall.
The construction was dedicated to the late E. Ric Frataccia and Myron Knauff, both of whom served in the military and in administration for the Valparaiso Community Schools, and whose families were in attendance at the ceremony.
Veteran Jon Hazen, points to his name on the Military Wall of Honor after a dedication ceremony at Valparaiso High School, in Valparaiso on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (Vincent D. Johnson/for the Post-Tribune). (Vincent D. Johnson / Chicago Tribune)
The display is 40 feet by 12 feet overlaid with brushed aluminum metal plates for each branch of service. There are spaces for approximately 500 name plates for each branch. The adjacent wall display also includes pictures, the military oath of service and a large American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“Traditionally, VHS means Valparaiso High School,” said McCall. “But now, from this day forward, everyone will know that is also stands for Valor, Honor and Service.”
“What a day, what a day,” said Clark. “Every name on this wall has a story, and so many of you are part of those stories.”
Clark went on to introduce several families and graduates in attendance, including Bob Gray and his sister, Peggy Kantor.
Attendees gathered for the Military Hall of Honor dedication ceremony at Valparaiso High School, in Valparaiso on Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (Vincent D. Johnson/for the Post-Tribune). (Vincent D. Johnson / Chicago Tribune)
Kantor said her father was one of six boys, all who served in the army. Her twin brother, Ralph Gray, also served, along with siblings and cousins.
As Kantor looked up on the Wall of Honor, she noted how many names she recognized.
“What a wonderful way to support our military and veterans,” said Kantor. “I see so many names of neighbors, classmates, friends. What a way to honor these men and women.”
Community members can find out more about the initiative and the process for submitting names of VHS graduates who served in the military at https://valparaisohigh.valpo.k12.in.us/apps/pages/vhsmilitaryhallofhonor.