More than 150 community residents, visitors and Veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Shippensburg Saturday to witness the unveiling and dedication of the Fallen Heroes of the Mid-Atlantic States Memorial. The beautifully designed monument is a tribute to the 838 men and women whose names appear on the wall from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., all of whom gave their lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
Built by Tim Wright, a retired Army Veteran from Shippensburg, the wall includes the names of soldiers killed in action since October of 2001. Wright has traveled throughout the six states and the District of Columbia over the past several years, towing the aluminum-framed metal panels that make up the memorial using his pickup truck on a custom-made trailer. He’s attended countless Memorial and Veterans Day parades and celebrations, and has even taken the memorial to the nation’s capital to be part of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.
“We all need to remember the sacrifices made by each and every one of the individuals on this monument. I am so very thankful that the memorial will have a permanent home here in Shippensburg,” Wright told the crowd Saturday.
Saturday’s guest list included local dignitaries and Veterans, as well as several Gold Star Mothers, Veterans from across the mid-state and from various VFW and American Legion Posts, among others.
Guy Hayslett, commander of American Legion Post 223 in Shippensburg opened the ceremony talking about Wright, and how the two of them became friends.
“Tim and I were attending the same parade about eight or nine years ago, but really didn’t know one another at the time. I was getting ready to march with the American Legion Honor Guard when I decided to walk over and look at this wall because I really didn’t know what the wall was, or what it stood for,” Hayslett explained. “I was looking closer at the wall and saw my son’s name on that wall…ever since then, Tim and I have become good friends.”
Hayslett’s son, Army Sgt. Timothy L. Hayslett was killed in the line of duty while conducting a patrol in Baghdad, on Nov. 15, 2003. He was 26.
Hayslett says it is such an honor to have the memorial wall in Shippensburg where everyone can see the names and remember the sacrifices made by each and every name on that wall. He and Wright worked together with other members of Post 223 to help bring the wall to Shippensburg and have it permanently placed alongside the Vietnam War Memorial at the entrance to Veterans Memorial Park.
More than $7,000 in donations was raised to help bring the project to fruition. Hayslett also thanked Rick Yohe and his wife, Amy, for their hard work and construction on the wall that has made it stand out beautifully at the park.
“Without their hard work, this wall would not be standing here today,” he said.
State Rep. Rob Kauffman offered words of praise and gratitude for all the work that went into making the wall possible, and for the community that helped to secure its place in Shippensburg.
“I just have to say, WOW, what a labor of love this has been for Tim to do,” Kauffman stated. “I almost feel like I have walked through this with Tim because ever since he started this project, I would have conversations with him when I was out and about at different places when he was showing it, and unfortunately, had to watch the progress of the wall as more names were added to it as the conflicts would continue.”
He talked of those he knew, and spoke of one individual he graduated high school with whom he honored on the floor of the House of Representatives, saying, “All of these young men valiantly served this country and now their names are on this wall. In a somber way, it’s exciting to see my community honor, rightly, the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war on terror as it has continued.”
Kauffman said he loved hearing the list of all the Veterans’ organizations that have been part of this project, and to see it come to fruition here in Shippensburg.
“To all of those who helped to make this happen, you are what this great community is all about. Fantastic projects like this don’t come about through government, they come about through community partnership, and that’s the beauty of it! I am here today to honor our brave men and women, and also to honor all of those in this community that have worked so hard to make this happen. Great job, everyone,” he concluded.
Shippensburg Mayor Kathy Coy was also on hand for the dedication.
“I am always honored to be part of, or to witness, a Veteran event or ceremony,” Coy said. “As I was sitting there during the ceremony, I could feel a strong emotional sense of peace for the families and soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice. It surprised me how very quiet the surroundings were even with the road minimal footage away.”
She said she hopes those who visit the memorial will feel the same sense of peace. She also expressed her thanks and appreciation to Rick and Amy Yohe, Tim Wright and all who made this project happen.
“It is an outstanding memorial, and our servicemen and women deserve this honor and respect,” she added, “God Bless each of you for your hard work and dedication to this project, and may those whose names are listed here rest in peace on this site.”