Opposition To Renaming Wawasee’s Warrior Field Voiced

SYRACUSE – Not everyone in the Wawasee Schools community is gung-ho about renaming the high school’s football field after World War II Medal of Honor recipient Harry J. Michael.

Or renaming Warrior Field after anyone for that matter.

During the Jan. 11 Wawasee School Board meeting, Dave Baumgartner and Rich Rhodes requested the Board name the football field for Michael. Rhodes is the nephew of Michael. With them were representatives of the Syracuse, Milford and North Webster American Legion Posts.

Then on Tuesday, Rhodes returned to the School Board to reiterate the request, this time bringing several letters, old and new, in support of honoring Michael. Two of the letters were from Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and Indiana state. Rep. Curt Nisly.

During his 12-1/2 minutes of comments to the Board, Rhodes said the whole cost to name Warrior Field after Michael would be covered and there would be no cost to the Wawasee School Corporation. “Warrior” would still be a part of the field’s name.

After he was done, Becky Tusing approached the Board. She said her grandkids go to Milford School and she was a Wawasee alumni.

“I disagree with renaming the field Warrior Field in anyone’s honor,” she said. “My dad was a veteran. My brothers, who were all Wawasee Warrior graduates, served in the military. My brother John was in Vietnam and my brother Aaron was in Berlin. I’m very much in support of all veterans and I believe we should honor all veterans in any occasion we can. They fight so we don’t have to.”

That being said, Tusing said she believes all veterans who graduated from Wawasee High School, or any school in the corporation, should be honored.

“How do we say one is more important than the other? How do we say that one man’s relative deserves more honor than my brother or any other number of veterans that have either served and are living or who have fallen and gave their last full measure of devotion?” she asked.

“It would dishonor all if we would serve to elevate one veteran above another. From the lowest foot soldier to the highest ranking officer, Wawasee veterans all deserve honor and gratitude.”

Tusing said she felt they couldn’t elevate any prior student over another and Wawasee has only one football field.

“What happens if another solider – be it male or female – should come along, or ones we don’t know, have the same honor?” she said, adding that Wawasee can’t keep renaming fields and all veterans deserve honor and respect.

She said Wawasee graduates that served in the military should have a place of honor.

“My suggestion would be a Warrior Wall, something like the Vietnam Wall. Each graduate could be listed, with the branch of service they were in and what conflict or war they served in. Perhaps the Legion or Eagles or other anonymous donors could be approached to pay for the tribute wall. Perhaps our state representatives could help procure a grant,” Tusing said. “This, I feel, would give all honor to all Warriors and not place one’s service above another.”

She said she would be happy to serve on a committee to explore this possibility or others.

“Let’s leave Warrior Field alone and give honor in another form to all veterans,” she concluded.

The Wawasee School Board took no action on Tuesday, but at the January meeting advised Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer to work with a group on the proposal from Baumgartner and Rhodes and come back to the Board at a later date with a recommendation.