Veterans Honor Park gets a fitting gift

By on June 27, 2018

Wayne Siegrist bought a piece of Lititz High School, originally built in 1916. That piece was a 55-foot, 1,000-pound flagpole that’s headed to Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster

When the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster is built, it will be built in recognition of the service of veterans throughout Lancaster County.

Even though it is located in Lititz, the veterans who will be honored come from Lancaster, Strasburg, Manheim, New Holland, Mount Joy, Ephrata, Lititz and every community in Lancaster County.

“Ephrata has had a major role in the park,” says Dave Kramer, chairman of the Veterans Honor Park of Lancaster County, noting that there are more than 1,600 veterans living in Ephrata Borough and Ephrata Township.

The park originally was a joint venture with the Lititz Public Library and local government. Nearly 2½ acres were donated by Wayne Siegrist, Warwick Township, in honor of his father, a World War II veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion.

Just recently, the Downtown Ephrata, Inc. retailer group presented the Veterans Park with a check for $2,500 toward the park, which will be located on property.

That isn’t the only thing Siegrist is contributing to the Veterans Park. Back in 2004, when the old Lititz Elementary School was razed and then rebuilt a year and a half later, Siegrist decided to buy a piece of the school, that was originally built in 1916 as Lititz High School.

That “piece” of the old Lititz Elementary School wasn’t a little piece. It was a 55-foot, 1,000-pound flagpole.

What made Siegrist buy a flagpole? For one thing, the price was right. Siegrist paid just $5 for the flagpole.

For the past 14 years Wayne Siegrist’s flagpole was stored outdoors at his farm, slowly covered in vines and rusting from the elements. On May 25, the flagpole was retrieved by GSM Industrial, which used heavy equipment and a long truck to transport the flagpole back to the GSM Industrial facility in Lancaster.

“I thought it would be a good keepsake from the old school,” says Siegrist. “Plus, I had a 35-foot flagpole on my property and this one is taller.”

Siegrist intended to replace the flagpole on his Pierson Road property overlooking the future Veterans Park. He never quite got around to it.

For the past 14 years the flagpole was stored outdoors at his farm, slowly covered in vines and rusting from the elements. On May 25, the flagpole was retrieved by GSM Industrial, which used heavy equipment and a long truck to transport the flagpole back to the GSM Industrial facility in Lancaster.

Reed Gooding, president of GSM Industrial, was on site for Operation Flagpole as workers uncovered the deteriorating flagpole and hoisted it onto the long truck to be transported to the Hempland Road metal fabrication and welding facility.

There it will be refurbished to its original gleaming glory and later installed at the new Veterans Park. But that’s not all.

Siegrist is also donating a gold leaf American eagle statue that currently sits atop his 35-foot flagpole. That eagle was once at the top of a flagpole at Linden Hall. Siegrist bought it from Fred Behm many years ago. The late Behm was a well-known roofer, who did work on many historic churches and other buildings in Lititz. The golden eagle cost a lot more than $5, noted Siegrist.

The eagle will also be restored, although it is in fairly good condition from its perch high above Siegrist’s farm.

“I think it will be nice that the flagpole from Lititz Elementary School and the eagle from Linden Hall will be together at the Veterans Park,” says Siegrist. “It seems very fitting.”

Meanwhile, Kramer reports that progress is continuing toward the Veterans Park of Lancaster County. There is still no groundbreaking date or start of construction date in place, but it shouldn’t be too much longer, he says.

The Veterans Park of Lancaster County will have a circular garden honoring veterans from all over Lancaster County, with walkways and memorials to those who have served in the military, including the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy.

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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