Armed Forces Veterans Memorial unveiled on UT Campus

365 UT system staff or students are inscribed in the memorial that will remain in the heart of the Knoxville campus.
365 UT system staff or students inscribed in the memorial that will remain in the heart of the Knoxville campus.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 12:19 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The University of Tennessee now has a memorial to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice with 365 names that are unique because they all have ties to the University of Tennessee system, whether they are a former staff member or student.

The memorial sits in the heart of campus, on the Joe Johnson-John Ward Pedestrian Mall and with each name on the memorial there’s a story that goes along with it.

Belinda Ford was in attendance as the memorial was unveiled, because her late husband Lenn Blevins has his name on it.

“I think he’d be happy to have his name on the memorial,” said Ford about her husband who was a UT graduate and Oak Ridge native.

In January of 1985, Blevins lost his life during a flight on the coast of Honduras. For months, crews searched for him in the ocean but couldn’t find him. Now, the memorial on campus gives a wife, who for years has been searching for answers, a place to remember her late husband.

“We’re really appreciative of all the effort and time it has taken to get this done, and I think it’ll be a favorite place of mine here on campus,” said Ford.

Betty Brannum sat in the back row of the ceremony, and was there because her son Robert has his name on the memorial.

A Knoxville native, Robert enlisted in the Army and died in a helicopter crash in 1988. As a proud UT alum, his family is proud to have his name inscribed on a place that means so much to them.

“He went to UT on a ROTC scholarship and was so proud of that,” said Brannum.

The memorial as it stands now is temporary, with a permanent one expected in the next few weeks. The current one is made of wood, with the new one slated to be built out of 13 tons of East Tennessee marble.