VFW donates to Park group honoring Great War vets

Cynthia Clark, Reporter

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Veterans of Foreign Wars presented $70,000 to Park University’s Valor Medals Review project on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at VFW National Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

The Valor Medals Review researches cases where the Congressional Medal of Honor should be posthumously awarded to individuals who may have been denied the U.S. government’s highest honor because of racial bias. There were more than 300,000 African American service members who served in World War I and not one received the Medal of Honor.

Park University President Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., received the donation from VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz for the project, which is being led by the George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War.

“As the work moves forward we are excited to engage young minds,” said Dr. Gunderson. “[We] are conducting research that honors generations before and will impact countless generations to come. What a profound honor and what a profound partnership.”

Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., assistant professor of history, is leading the Valor Medals Review along with two Park students and a professional studies intern from Park Hill High School. They were present for the check presentation and received honors from Park and VFW leadership in attendance.

“It means the world, as a veteran,” said Josh Weston, a sophomore history major with a concentration in European history. “It’s my way of actually contributing to history itself. Not only looking out for the past, but affecting the present and future of history, I get to right wrongs from 100 years ago that should have never happened. I don’t think there are words to describe this.”

Schmitz reminded all of the VFW’s members of this year’s motto, “Dare to Care.”

“When you’re a veteran there is no gender, there is no race, there’s no color,” said Schmitz. “You’re a veteran serving this country that supports every living, breathing human that lives within its boundaries.”