Florida Gulf Coast University paid tribute to students, faculty and staff who have served in the military with the dedication Friday of its Veterans Pavilion.
The amphitheater and monument in the center of the Library Lawn are the result of a three-year effort by FGCU’s Student Government, which spent $241,000 on the project.
FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw said that the number of veterans attending college nationally is growing exponentially, with 480,000 enrolling last year, the largest influx since World War II. Currently, FGCU has 287 students who are veterans, an increase of 70 percent since fall 2009.
The FGCU monument is “a memorial that shows our gratitude to these brave men and women who have served in the military, making sacrifices most of us cannot imagine as they defended our nation and our freedoms,” he said.
Ed Morton, a member of the state Board of Governors, former chair of the FGCU Board of Trustees and a former Army captain, urged those gathered to remember the sacrifices of the patriots during the Revolutionary War who fought and died so that Americans could enjoy the freedoms that exist today.
Student Government President Juan Cubillo told those gathered, “Our hope is that veterans who enroll at FGCU will know that they are appreciated.”
The plaque affixed to the wall next to the pavilion reads: “Dedicated to veterans of the United States Armed Services who, through their selfless dedication, have faithfully and honorably served our country.”
Ed Morton, a member of the Florida Board of Governors, former chairman of the FGCU Board of Trustees and a former Army captain, speaks during Friday’s dedication of the Veterans Pavilion on the Library Lawn.