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Clarksville Eagle Scout brings Gold Star Memorial to APSU

By: Ethan Steinquest June 7, 2024


APSU President Mike Licari speaks during a dedication ceremony for the campus’s Gold Star Memorial, which was funded through a local Eagle Scout project. | Photo by Sean McCully

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Joseph Brunner, a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Troop 365, has left a lasting impact on Austin Peay State University through his Eagle Scout project to install a Gold Star Memorial on campus.

The university celebrated Brunner’s achievement with a dedication ceremony hosted on Thursday, June 6 at the memorial’s home outside the Browning Administration Building.

“I’m very happy that we were able to get this memorial on campus, and that it could potentially be here for hundreds of years,” Brunner said. “We didn’t have a memorial for any of the Gold Star families that have been affiliated with APSU on campus before, and it’s great to be able to show our support for them.”

The Austin Peay community has 25 Gold Star families, which means they are the immediate relatives of a fallen service member. APSU’s Gold Star Memorial honors each of them through custom plaques and freshly planted trees that Brunner purchased through fundraising.

“This memorial is a visible display of our reverence as a campus for those who have given the last full measure of devotion to our nation,” APSU President Mike Licari said. “We want each student, alumni and friend of the university to know that we recognize the sacrifices their families have made.”


Joseph Brunner, a member of the Boy Scouts of America’s Troop 365, shakes hands with Montgomery County Mayor Wes Golden. | Photo by Sean McCully

Brunner was inspired to take on the project after meeting with retired Army Maj. Gen. Walt Lord, Austin Peay’s vice president for Military and Veterans Affairs, in September 2022. From there, he led a group of fellow scouts in an effort to raise $5,000 for the memorial.

“Let me tell you, it is not as easy as they say,” Brunner said, noting that his first fundraising event was during a military appreciation football game. “I had my tent set up right at the entrance and the scouts from Troop 365 and I discussed my project with countless people. By the end of the day, we raised a grand total of $80 out of $5,000. I knew we had a long way to go.”

The scouts also raised money by visiting service groups like the Kiwanis, Civitan and Rotary clubs, and Brunner thanked the members of Grace Lutheran Church and other donors for their support during the dedication.

“Over one year later, the money was finally raised,” Brunner said, noting that an additional $1,700 in funding will cover a scholarship for a Gold Star family member. “This project could not have been done without the support from scouts and scoutmasters of Troop 365 … [and] without [our] amazing donors and volunteers, Gold Star families and their loved ones at Austin Peay would not be recognized for making the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our country.”


Attendees gather at the dedication ceremony for Austin Peay State University’s Gold Star Memorial. | Photo by Sean McCully

In his closing remarks, Licari highlighted the community’s collaborative spirit and the profound impact of Brunner’s vision on the university.

“We hope that when you visit this spot in the future, you will be reminded of the many great contributions that made this possible and the impact that it will have on our campus and community for years to come,” Licari said. “Thank you, Joseph, for having the passion to honor our Gold Star families as your Eagle Scout project, and congratulations on a job well done.”