Each year, the Indiana Blue Star Salute raises funds to provide support to military families throughout the Midwest. In 2009, the Salute's fourth year, more than 1,000 families were honored in ceremonies at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind, and the event raised $11,000 for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund. The $11,000 was recently delivered to American Legion National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler at National Headquarters.
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship ensures children of U.S. servicemembers who died on or after Sept. 11, 2001, receive the opportunity to pursue higher learning. During last year's event, more than 1,500 Legion Riders throughout the U.S. played an important role in helping raise donations and awareness for the scholarship by participating in the "Ride for the Salute." At the end of the ride, they rode in procession to the O'Reilly Raceway Park to greet military families.
The upcoming Fifth Annual Indiana Blue Star Salute, one of the nation's largest events to honor and recognize families of servicemembers, is scheduled for June 19 at a new location in Indianapolis—Stout Field National Guard Armory. Military leaders, American Legion dignitaries and elected officials will deliver remarks of gratitude during the event, while a special presentation that pays tribute to Gold Star families—those whose loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice—will also be delivered. The event will also include numerous booths staffed by military-supporting businesses and organizations, military vehicles and aircraft, and parachutists and activities for children. And for entertainment, country singer and American Legion supporter, Michael Peterson, will grace the stage.
Salute Chairman Ralph "Zoc" Zoccolillo of Avon, Ind., said the goal for the 2010 event is to involve no less than 1,500 Legion Riders and honor even more families. Financial contributions for the event will be provided by a number of businesses and major sports teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Pacers and Alliance Motorsports.
"Every year we raise money through the Indiana Blue Star Salute, and every year we dedicate no less than $10,000 for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund," Zoccolillo explained. "This year, we are giving $11,000 to the fund." Funds raised for the event pay for banners, facilities, promotions and gifts for the families.
Zoccolillo, who works with a number of central Indiana American Legion posts to make the yearly event happen, said the Fifth Annual Blue Star Salute will be "unforgettable. We really want it to be the best yet."
Families attending the event will receive a Blue Star Banner to display in their homes. The Blue Star Banner was resurrected by The American Legion shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for military families to display in their windows to show their community that they have loved ones serving in the war on terrorism. The banners, which first appeared during World War I, were common in American windows during World War II.
To learn more about the Blue Star Salute, visit www.indianabluestar.org .