University creates parking space for Purple Heart recipients

University+creates+parking+space+for+Purple+Heart+recipients

Camille Studebaker

Sparked by one law student’s passion to commemorate veterans who were injured risking their lives for their country, the University of Alabama created a parking space for Purple Heart recipients this summer.

Steven Arango, a University of Alabama law student and Marine Corps second lieutenant, got the idea for the spot from Home Depot and a few other universities which have similar spots.

“Then it was just something that I felt God put on my heart, and so then I just followed that passion and went through with it,” he said. 

Producing the space took about a year’s effort. Arango went to the head of all parking operations at the University and helped facilitate meetings where he presented for the parking committee. He then got the project signed off on by the president and Board of Trustees.

Purple Heart recipients will register for a parking tag to hang in their car which will allow them to park in the Purple Heart parking space in the southwest corner of the Ferguson Student Center parking lot, as well as well as in all zones on campus. 

Purple Heart recipients from World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan congregated with University officials over the summer for the parking space reveal ceremony, according to UA News.

“You know just seeing it come to full vision, it was exciting and the day of the event we had a ton of veterans: a couple Purple Heart recipients, and just to see them there and the emotion of them, that was worth it all,” Arango said.  

Arango said a wonderful part of the whole experience has been not just commending wounded warriors, but involving the student body. He said the parking space is a way to bring students together through the fearlessness that veterans have presented for this nation, and that it represents respect, courage, selflessness, strength, patriotism and much more. 

Evan Van Nostrand, assistant strength and conditioning coach in UA Athletics and Purple Heart recipient, said he thinks that the parking space is a good thing because as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, they will feel less real to the American people.

“I think that parking spot is kind of a reminder of the sacrifices that have been made and will be made in the future by some of our military members,” he said. 

The University of Alabama is among one of the first schools to commemorate Purple Heart recipients in this manner, and Van Nostrand hopes other universities follow in its footsteps. 

“I think when visitors come and see that kind of recognition, I think that they’ll follow suit as well,” Van Nostrand said.