Photo by James V. Carroll

Event honors Blue Star families

Skydivers, helicopters, vintage warplanes, 700 American Legion Riders, a Michael Peterson performance, and speakers - including U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar - highlighted The American Legion's Fifth Annual Blue Star Salute on Saturday.

In addition to the official program activities, attendees of all ages were treated to a myriad of interesting and fun activities inside and outside the hanger at Stout Field, home of the Indiana National Guard. Venders were present to show support for Blue Star families, as were the Indiana Pacers cheerleaders, a number of Indianapolis Colts players and "Blue," the Colts mascot. There were static displays, a video game arcade, a rock-climbing wall and, of course, food.

"Each year, our goal is to present a bigger and better Blue Star Salute," said Blue Star Committee Chairman Ralph "Zoc" Zoccolillo. "And I think everyone here today can agree that we have succeeded."

The Blue Star Salute is a tribute to those who have a family member, or members, that are currently in harm's way. Blue Star families present were given a Blue Star Banner that shows a family's pride in their loved ones serving in the military and reminds others that preserving America's freedom requires great demands.

The Avon, Ind., American Legion Post 145 hosted its first blue banner event in 2006. The current program is a statewide event that is hosted by all of the Legion posts in Hendricks County.

Donations, corporate contributions and pledges generate support for the event, which last year delivered $11,000 to The American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund. Children of military personnel killed on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, receive college money from the fund, managed at American Legion National Headquarters.