The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Honoring veterans

Published May 7, 2024

Catholic High School in Little Rock unveiled a new veterans memorial statue May 6 to honor all alumni who served in the U.S. military. The senior class of the school’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps raised more than $7,000 to fund the construction and placement of the statue. 

The statue of a male soldier solemnly kneeling at a battlefield cross was designed by SVJ Creative Designs of Kellogg, Minn., and installed by Jon Callahan Construction of North Little Rock. Callahan, a 1997 Catholic High graduate, donated the cost of the installation.

"As a senior in the JROTC program, I am honored to be part of this effort to recognize our veterans and fallen heroes," Cadet Lt. Col. Will Johnson, JROTC battalion commander, said. "This statue will serve as a lasting reminder of the sacrifices made by members of the Catholic High family and inspire future generations to serve with the same courage and commitment."

Army Col. Shawn Daniel, a 1987 Catholic High graduate, and Andy Rossi, both of Little Rock, spoke during the dedication ceremony. Rossi spoke on behalf of Army Sgt. Hubert J. Purifoy, a Catholic High student who left high school his junior year to fight in Vietnam. He was killed in action Jan. 8, 1967.

The JROTC program was established at the school in 1967.

Rector Msgr. Lawrence Frederick blessed the statue. A plaque on the statue reads, "In honor and appreciation for all Catholic High School alumni who have honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces with special recognition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their county.”

"We are proud to unveil this memorial statue, which stands as a testament to the courage and commitment of our students and the entire Catholic High community," head of school Steve Straessle said. "The JROTC program at Catholic High instills the values of leadership, service and patriotism in our young men, and this initiative exemplifies those qualities."