A band of UT students has requested that a statue be built on campus to honor veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’ve taken to an edgy new online tool to push for it.
Sophomore Kelly Depew and senior Apolonio Hernandez are behind the idea for a statue, which they’d like to see beside or behind the statue honoring the WWI veterans outside Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
“There’s an extremely large number of Texas and UT veterans,” Depew said. “And we thought it was appropriate with the war in Iraq officially ending.”
Depew doesn’t have donors, funding, or organizational support, but she’s an everyday student with the Internet on her side. On Monday, Depew started an online petition to gain support for the statue idea.
Using a website called change.org, Depew has gathered around 400 signatures so far. But she and Hernandez have a long way to go—the two hope to officially present the idea to The University when they have somewhere near 10,000.
Change.org is a modern-day petition platform. Created four years ago but just recently bursting into public awareness, the website has brought success to common people standing up against multinational corporations, and even made a difference for human rights in foreign countries.
Depew and Hernandez’ story starts less with anger than respect. The two met in a pre-law class at UT. Hernandez is a three-time Iraq veteran and member of the Student Veterans Association at UT. Depew is passionate about honoring veterans simply because she puts herself in their shoes.
“These people have lost best friends and brothers in combat,” Depew said. “There’s something about risking your life for a cause that makes me feel very empathetic.”
Depew said she and Hernandez also want the statue to pay respect to loved ones of fallen soldiers. “These people deserve more recognition than fireworks at a football game,” Depew said. “They deserve to be thanked every day.”
Though the idea is still in its infancy, the students said they might propose to receive funding as a “class gift” from the 2012 graduating class. They said they would like to raise the money on a donation basis as a gift to Texas veterans.
Besides the online petition, the students plan to promote the statue idea by tabling on campus and talking to fellow students.
“I know I won’t be here when the statue is built,” Hernandez said. “But it will be nice to come back and see that accomplishment.”
Photo courtesy UT Athletics.