Veterans Honor Park breaks ground

By on November 14, 2018
Some 30 Bonfield Elementary students officially broke ground using military implements. Photo by Laura Knowles

Some 30 Bonfield Elementary students officially broke ground using military implements. Photo by Laura Knowles

It was the day everyone had been waiting for.

Ground was broken for the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the park location just across from the Lititz Public Library.

Just in time for Veterans Day, the new park will be starting construction in the next few weeks. They hope to get as much work done as possible before winter weather sets in, and then the park construction will begin again for spring.

Guests at the Veterans Honor Park groundbreaking included all ages, from war veterans and their families to young students from John R Bonfield Elementary School. There were some 30 Bonfield students who officially broke ground using military implements, while others held the flags of the U.S. Military services, including the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Navy.

Among the students who made the first dig toward the county-wide veterans park were sixth grader Kaleb Porinchak and fifth grader Nicholas Rossi. Porinchak noted that his father, uncle and great grandfather were all veterans.

“I wanted to be here to help out. I think it’s important to have a veterans park,” said Rossi, whose two grandfathers are veterans.

Bonfield fifth grader Sara Hassona was honored to hold the U.S. flag during the ceremony. She too has several family members who have served their country, including her grandfather, uncle, aunt and a cousin.

“I think it’s cool to be a part of this,” said Hassona. “The veterans fought for our country to give us freedom.”

She is the granddaughter of C. David Kramer, the veteran who first conceived of planning the Veterans Park in Warwick Township after he read a letter to the editor from the wife of a veteran.

Kramer just happened to run into Wayne Siegrist, who owns a nearby farm and had donated the land for the Lititz Public Library. As it happened, Siegrist is the son of a World War II veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion. He agreed to provide 2 1/2 acres of land for the veterans park as a tribute to his father.

Plans for the park have been underway since 2013. Fundraising began in earnest in 2014. Initially, it was hoped that the park could open in November of 2016, but organizers were waiting to raise the money needed for the county-wide park.

The original plan was scaled down, and features a circular honor court with a flag in the center. The park will also feature memorial brick pavers in honor of veterans. The park was designed by landscape architect Robert Kornman, a member of the Warwick Township Planning Commission and veteran of the U.S. Army.

At the groundbreaking, Kramer introduced guest speaker Jim Sinkovitz, a former WGAL News 8 anchor and reporter, who is a former United States Marine, a Vietnam War combat veteran, and a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal.

Kramer also acknowledged retired Four-Star United States Air Force General William T. Hobbins as the highest ranking military officer from Lancaster County. While General Hobbins was unable to attend the ceremony, his wife Robbin Hobbins was able to attend. Robbin Hobbins is a former Air Force recovery care coordinator, serving as an advocate for wounded, ill and injured airmen in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.

Kramer credited Robert Weaver, a U.S. Navy Vet from the Vietnam era, who has long been active in Lancaster County veteran affairs, for his vision in establishing the veterans park back in 2013. Calling on the words used by Robert Kennedy (based on a quote from George Bernard Shaw), Kramer said, “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

“It was said then, and is said now, that if there’s something going on in this county involving veterans, Bob (Weaver) was part of it. But he had a dream. He dreamed of something that never was, and he asked why not,” said Kramer.

The mission of the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County is to recognize and pay tribute to the valor of Lancaster Countians who ever wore a United States Armed Forces uniform and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic.

Kramer thanked all the veterans, families and businesses that have made the park possible. They include Advantage Engineers, All Star Bronze, Alphabet Sign, American Flag Shop, ARRO Consulting, Belson Outdoor Furniture, Biemesderfer Landscape, Bottom Line Contracting, B.R. Kreider, Clair Global, Derck& Edson LLC, Diehm Surveyors, Drohan Brick, E & G Concrete, ECS Limited, ELA Group, Erb Brothers Landscape, GSM Industrial, Ironsmith, LISTRAK, Quality Stone Veneer, Reidenbaugh Electric/Herr & Sacco, Rohrer’s Quarry, RSR/Reidenbaugh, Sporting Valley Turf, Sun Precast, The Edgewood Company, Warwick Township, Zimmerman Masonry, and Zug & Associates.

There are still commemorative bricks available to honor veterans at the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County. To find out more, check www.vetshonorparklanco.org.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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