UNC Charlotte unveiled a new park dedicated to veterans on its campus Monday. The idea came from a UNC Charlotte alumnus who is a veteran.
A trumpet played before the dedication of the Veterans Park. It sits next to the university’s Army ROTC building, and features a wall representing each military branch. The project has taken three years to complete, a collaboration between university administrators and UNC Charlotte’s Student Veterans’ Association.
Chris Orr, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant, graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2018. The park was originally his idea while he was still a student, and he helped design it. He described his hopes for the new park.
"A place that veterans – and non-veterans – can just come and remember," Orr said. "If they need to stop by and they’re thinking of a loved one, they can come, sit, hang out, reflect. If they want to bring a laptop and study for however long between classes. Just a safe place that people can come to and enjoy and remember."
UNC Charlotte administrators want the park to serve as a reminder of the university’s origins as an evening school that served veterans returning from World War II. The university also has a growing student veteran population, with a 10% increase in students using the GI Bill to attend in the past two years.