Veterans Honor Park dedicated

By on June 12, 2019

When Robert Kornman works on a design he starts with a rolled-up sheet of paper and he saves everything.

His latest project, a true labor of love, was not coming together easily. With only two rolls of paper left, he pulled out his first design for the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County and said, “that’s the one.”

The park, which sits next to the Lititz Public Library in Warwick Township, has a circular design, creating a never-ending line. A former U.S. Army Lieutenant and a retired partner with landscape architectural firm Derck & Edson, Kornman wanted the military branches of service integrated.

He wanted each branch to flow into the next Branch so there was no division. The bricks can be removed and engraved with messages on them.

A multi-service honor guard kicks off the dedication of the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County on Sunday June 9. Photos by Dennis Bicksler.

Kornman wanted the stone wall as a backdrop for people sitting on benches and he wanted trees to shade the people sitting on the benches.

Mission accomplished
About 400 people attended the ceremony which unveiled his finished work during the Honor Park’s official dedication Sunday. Proud guests, speakers, musicians, and spectators felt a steady breeze beneath a warm sun and blue skies dotted by white puffy clouds.

“I am so overwhelmed that so many people turned out to support the veterans and see this park,” Kornman said. “I’ve been here every day since we began the construction. There were six or eight people here every day and twice people were crying. “It was so heartwarming that they had a place to come.”

Dick Hoxworth, a retired Air Force Sergeant and former WGAL-TV 8 news anchor, posed for a photo with Command Sgt. Major Jeremy C. Strathmeyer, U.S. Army/Pennsylvania National Guard, who lives in Lititz and U.S. Army National Guard Brig. Gen. David E. Wood.

They stood under the marker for the Air Force. Later they posed under the marker for the Marines and Army with other former and current men and women that served in different branches of the United States Military.

Hoxworth, a Vietnam veteran, said it nice to have a place that welcomes everyone.

Katherine Peterson, of Lancaster, who was pushed in her wheelchair by her daughter Linda Tinsley, said she was anxious to see the five-ton markers and columns that represent each branch of military service.

A WWII veteran, Peterson served as a medical-surgical technician in Memphis, Tenn., working with wounded soldiers arriving home. That’s where she met her husband.
The keynote address was delivered by Gen. Wood.

Despite doing countless speeches, he got a little emotional when he spotted older veterans in the crows like Peterson.

“When I got up on the stage and looked down I saw a half dozen or so older folks with their veterans hats on in wheelchairs,” he said after the speech. “It just made me think of the years that have passed since they served and what they saw and what they did and they just go about their quiet lives and here these folks are now.”

“There are not many WWII veterans left,” he continued. “And we had a couple of them here today. When I saw them all looking at me, I thought I am not even worthy to be talking about legacy to these guys.”

Paul Cunningham, a staff sergeant who served in Korea from 1950-52 as a radar repairman in the U.S. Air Force, said the tribute to Veterans in Lancaster County is long overdue.

“But I think it is a beautiful tribute to all the veterans that served and all the veterans that died for our country’s freedom,” said Cunningham, the president of the local chapter of Korean War

Veterans Association and president of the national association.

Standing in front of the U.S. Marine tribute are (from left to right) Sergeant Elaina Wanamaker, U.S. Army; Brigadier Gen. David E. Wood, Army/Pennsylvania National Guard; C. David Kramer, retired U.S.M.C. and Chairman, Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County; Dick Hoxworth, retired Sergeant, U.S. Air Force and former WGAL-TV 8 news anchor; Robert Kornman, retired Army Lieutenant and vice chairman and architect for Veterans Honor Park; Commander Sergeant Major Jeremy C. Strathmeyer, U.S. Army/Pennsylvania National Guard; and Sergeant Erin Murphy, U.S. Army.

“I am glad to see it here,” he said. “Well done.”

Mike Wert, of Lititz, missed going to Vietnam by about 12 days. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He jumped out of planes and was a military policeman.

“I think this is fantastic to have a park like this is great,” he said. “To honor the people that have served that have not gotten the recognition they needed. Although they are not here to appreciate it, it is just great to see the crowd come out (this) size. It is great for people that have served to see that there is a commitment and there’s support behind it.”

How it began
Plans for the park got underway since 2013, with fundraising beginning in 2014. The idea for the park came from a letter to the editor from Karen Davis, the wife of a veteran. The writer asked why Lancaster County, with all its wealth, has never created a park in honor of veterans of America’s armed forces.

Former Warwick Township Supervisor C. David Kramer, Chairman of the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County and a Vietnam Veteran, was inspired by the letter.
He worked with landowner Wayne Siegrist, who in 2013 provided 2.5 acres of land &tstr; to be utilized for the Lititz Public Library and Veterans Memorial.

It is a tribute to Siegrist’s father, Raymond F. Siegrist, a World War II Navy veteran and a Higgins boat driver during the D-Day invasion.

The project has been built in cooperation with Warwick Township and funded 100 percent by private donations from throughout the county, and as far away as California, Florida and the New England states.

“I feel gratitude for all the people that stepped forward,” Kramer said. “Lot of prayers. This was so important to a lot of people. Now it is done and it is real.”
It seemed fitting that Jeremy Strathmyer, a Lititz resident, would hoist the flag. The flag pole, which looks brand new, has significance in Lititz, dating back to 1917.

The pole was originally at Lititz High School and eventually Lititz Elementary. A new elementary school was built about 15 years ago. Siegrist bought the pole and had it sitting around his property. It was a rusty old thing.

Douglas Anderson, of Manheim, a Vietnam veteran, stands next to a plaque honoring Sam Lombardo, a major contributor in Veterans Honor Park Sunday.

GSM Industrial volunteered to restore it. Now it is in the middle of the park.

The first thing you see when you walk into the memorial entrance is a quote from Abraham Lincoln “Honor to the soldier and Sailor everywhere who bravely bears his country’s cause.”

“Regardless of which branch our veterans served in, today’s celebration belongs to everyone,” Gen. Wood said during his speech. “This park represents a sacrifice our veterans have made to ensure the gifts of liberty, peace and prosperity, passed down from generations, can be enjoyed by us now and for generations to come.”

After he finished speaking, Wood, a Lancaster Catholic High School graduate, sat down and told Kramer that is it rare to see this many older veterans like they are seeing today.

“It was amazing,” he said. “That’s special when you see those folks. This park and this town are dedicated to veterans. The fact, on a Sunday afternoon, people can do anything and everything they want and yet look at how many people are here today for this dedication. It says a lot about the town of Lititz.”

Eric Stark is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. 

One Comment

  1. Nancy Liberda

    June 19, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I’m so proud to have military family members in our family. My mom is Katharine Peterson, she was one of the ones you spoke with. Thank you for honoring them. I thank all of them for their service.

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