By Maureen Hayden
CNHI Statehouse Bureau
There are a lot of exhibits at the Indiana State Fair where visitors are given things to take away, but the Indiana National Guard is hoping its exhibit visitors will leave some things behind.
The children of Guard members have created a giant thank-you card, bearing the names of more than 6,000 military members and veterans from Indiana, including those who have died in service.
The 40-foot-wide banner is on display at the Indiana State Fair, where visitors are being invited to bring a memento of a loved one who has served in the military and leave it to become part of a permanent collection.
The words, “Thank You Indiana,” are spelled out on the banner, with the letters crafted from Velcro-backed name tapes that are part of a military uniform. The name tapes, embroidered with the surnames of military members and veterans, were donated to the project after the Guard’s Youth Council put out a call for them.
“When you step up close and see those names, you realize it’s not just about the service of one person; it’s also about the families of those called to service,” said Staff Sgt. Les Newport, a spokesman for the Indiana National Guard.
One of the first mementoes left at the site was put there by U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who was at the State Fair on opening day; the Republican is running for governor and was at the fair campaigning for votes.
Pence and his son, Michael, placed a framed photograph of Pence’s late father, a Korean War veteran from Columbus at the site.
It, along with other memorabilia left at the site, will become part of a permanent collection to be housed at a new “warrior support center” for military veterans and their families, located at the Guard’s Tyndell Armory in downtown Indianapolis.
For more information about the project, visit a website created by the Indiana National Guard, www.thankyouindiana.org.