Purple Heart recipients will soon have premium parking privileges at The University of Alabama.
On Aug. 9 at 11 a.m., UA will unveil a parking space in the Ferguson Center lot designated for veterans who have received the Purple Heart, an award given to men or women who have either been wounded or killed in combat.
Alabama Law student Steven Arango is a second lieutenant in the Marines and is on reserve status while he attends school. The Clearwater, Florida, native was commissioned in August 2016 and is a president of the UA Military Law Society, which proposed to Chris D’Esposito, director, UA Transportation Services, the idea of honoring Purple Heart veterans. Arango’s step-brother, Flynn Bluett, helped create the design for this parking space.
“My grandfather, who was a sniper in the Marine Corps, was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in the Marshall Islands during World War II,” Arango said. “This is something that’s been on my heart. I’ve seen similar parking spaces at Home Depot, and anytime we can do something on campus to honor our veterans, I’m all for it.”
The asphalt of the parking space will be marked with the Purple Heart logo, and a post that includes the logo will mark the front of the space.
The ceremony will be held in the lot along Campus Drive, west of the Ferguson Center. Members of UA’s veteran’s community will speak during the ceremony, including retired Air Force Col. and Purple Heart recipient Duane Lamb, assistant vice president for facilities and grounds and commander of the Purple Heart chapter in Tuscaloosa.
“The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is honored to be a part of this project,” said David Blair, director of that UA office.
“Honoring veterans in this way shows the commitment and dedication UA has for taking care of these students,” Blair said. “This is just one more reason UA continues to be recognized as a Top Military and Veteran friendly university. Currently we serve just over 4,000 veterans, service members, and dependents. The financial impact these students have at UA and in the local community annually is well over $40 million.”
UA has two registered Purple Heart recipients in its student body and is a Purple Heart University, a designation given to universities that recognize veterans wounded in combat. UA’s Purple Heart recipients will register with Veteran and Military Affairs and receive a Purple Heart hang-tag that will allow them to use the designated space and also park in any spot or zone on campus, except for handicapped spaces.