Tom Keilman, Director of Government and Public Affairs, BP's Whiting Business Unit, said, "Northwest Indiana has produced great people who have made a difference in the world. BP's Whiting Business Unit is proud to sponsor this initiative celebrating virtues that made this nation and region great."
Continuing a tradition started in 2004, these Legend inductees were described as helping to define a changing America to the world, said John Davies, Wall of Legends volunteer coordinator and founder. Gary Roosevelt lost to the Indianapolis Crispus Attucks Team, but together they opened a new chapter in civil rights history. Also, Lew Wallace, who wrote the huge hit "Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ," spent time in Starke County where he worked on other writings while visiting with Civil War veterans. Add region men of the 20th Indiana infantry standing on the front lines of nearly every major battle in the eastern theater, from Gettysburg to Appomattox Court House where General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Virginia surrendered.
In 1955, racial division was a reality in America. It was in December of that year that Rosa Parks refused to vacate her seat on a Montgomery bus, launching one of the first high profile protests of the Civil Rights movement. Earlier that year, two groups of African-American high school athletes came together for the first time in American history, to compete in a state championship basketball game. "Nothing like it had been seen before," said nominator Chuck Hughes, executive director, Gary Chamber of Commerce. The athletic abilities and talents displayed on March 19, 1955 in the Butler Fieldhouse in Indianapolis changed basketball forever. Yet the impact of that night resonated well-beyond the basketball court, for it served as one of the earliest events in the nation to further equality and justice for all Americans.
Lewis "Lew" Wallace was an American lawyer, Union General in the Civil War, governor of the New Mexico territory, politician, diplomat and author from Indiana. Among his works were "Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ." Written in 1880, its aggregate sales were not surpassed until the success of "Gone with the Wind" in the 1930's. He is often linked with writing this book in Crawfordsville, IN, where he retired. But he also spent part of his writing career in Starke County where he wrote other books and visited with Civil War veterans, said nominators Charles Weaver, executive director, Starke County Economic Development Foundation and Debbie Mix, executive director, Starke County Chamber of Commerce.
From President Abraham Lincoln's call for able-bodied Union Army volunteers in 1861 to Confederate General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Va., in 1865, fighting Hoosiers of the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry were "present and accounted for on the forefront of Civil War history," said nominator Marc Chase, Civil War enthusiast and Times investigative reporter. Region men once walked on our streets in Crown Point, Lowell, Merrillville, Valparaiso, and La Porte, Chase said. "Today, they're well represented in the pioneer cemeteries of Northwest Indiana, gone but not forgotten."
Also recognized will be Brittany A. Penny, a Purdue North Central nursing student. She will be the 12th university student to receive a $1000 scholarship as a Legends Scholar. Sponsor of the scholarship is First Midwest Bank.
Legends coordinator Davies added, "These individuals exemplify the values that built this country and are great models for our children and future generations." Those chosen for the Wall of Legends undergo a rigorous selection by regional judges based upon the values of Exploration and Courage, Creativity and Innovation. Consultant is Stephen G. McShane, Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest.
The Legend Judges are: Bill Keith, Ben Clement, Dave Ryan, Joe Medellin, Michael Suggs, Tom Hargrove; William Nangle, Jon Gold, John Friend, and Speros Batistatos. Recently appointed Judges are Charles Weaver from Starke County also representing Jasper, Newton and Pulaski Counties. Also Maggie Spartz represents La Porte County. The Wall of Legends recognizes Legends representing all 7-counties of the region, including Lake and Porter Counties.
For information about The Wall of Legends, contact Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 219, 981-1111, Ext. 2292 at Ivy Tech Community College.