— The eighth annual Indiana Blue Star Salute wasn’t just an opportunity to thank military veterans for their service, but the sacrifices made by their families as well.
“Just as sure as I’m standing here, the families serve too,” said Richard Jewell, commander of the Indiana American Legion. “When I was a young man in Vietnam, I didn’t realize what my parents were going through during the almost two years I was on the ground (there).”
He does now. As Jewell noted to those gathered for this year’s salute, he and his wife (an Army vet just like him) raised three children who all served. They weathered many deployments over the years.
Indeed, as Indiana National Guard Brig. Gen. Brian Copes said, only 9 percent of the U.S. population since World War II has served in the military. But there are plenty of people who have sacrificed on their behalf.
“They’re the ones who wait, wonder, and worry about their loved ones deployed in harm’s way,” Copes said. “We in the uniform are often given the spotlight to stand in, even though we don’t seek it. The real heroes are those who stand just outside that spotlight and quietly cheer us on.”
This year’s Blue Star Salute was conducted in conjunction with the Slamology car show and music festival at Lucas Oil Raceway. Ralph “Zoc” Zoccolillo, chair of the Blue Star Salute Committee, always promises the event will be bigger and better the next time. With the help of the multi-day Slamology, he thinks he made good.
“They’ve been a phenomenal partner,” said Zoccolillo, who also thanked his committee and the many volunteers who help make the salute possible.
“This is something we’re very proud of. I’ve never worked with a more dedicated group of people. We plan months in advance to get this thing off the ground.”