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Veterans wall dedicated

May 30, 2000|By KERRI SACCHET

HALFWAY - The Joint Veterans Council of Washington County honored veterans living and dead during a Memorial Day ceremony Tuesday at the Veterans Memorial Wall at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park.

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Guest speaker Col. Jean Shinbur, a member of the Army National Guard Washington D.C. District, said the wall not only honors veterans, but helps to teach young people about the importance of serving their country.

"These veterans fought for freedom for generations of people that they would never even know," Shinbur said, "This is the real Memorial Day and it honors those who have given the ultimate sacrifice."

The 140-foot-long stone wall was designed to resemble the five arch bridges of Washington County and Shinbur said the design links the memorial to the community.

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Jim Sprecher, president of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, said he was pleased that the wall was completed and was pleased to present it to the veterans.

"I'm very excited. I'm glad it's finished after two years of sleepless nights, phone calls, months on the road and this and that. It's not complete. We have to put the donors' list up yet, but right now it's 99 percent finished," Sprecher said.

Ray Linebaugh, secretary of the Joint Veterans Council and a veteran of the Vietnam War, said the project originally involved creating an area of level ground for people to stand on during events in the memorial section of the park between Halfway Boulevard and Interstate 70.

"At the beginning we were only thinking to build a retaining wall, but then we thought of making it a memorial," Linebaugh said, "After that it was like a snowball that just took off and kept rolling."

Linebaugh said funding posed a problem throughout the construction of the wall. But the work got done with help from the Washington County Commissioners, the International Masonry Institute and others who made donations, Linebaugh said.

"We started with nothing and ended up having materials and funding donated to build the wall," Linebaugh said.

Hazel Bradford, Stone director for the Institute, said the stone-mason apprentices were glad to assist with the construction of the wall.

The International Masonry Institute is on the grounds of the former Fort Richie and is part of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

"Our apprentices donated almost $100,000 in labor, which was a really intensive part of the creating of the wall," Bradford said, "And it was a really special way for them to start their careers."

Each of the walls' five sections hold plaques that honor each branch of the military.

M. Stokes Redabaugh, stone training coordinator for the International Masonry Institute, said the stone came from a local quarry and was donated by Martin Marietta.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said it is important to honor veterans and to remember Memorial Day, which often is taken for granted.

"There are two reasons why we should support our veterans: One is we owe them and we should thank them for what they have done; two is that if we don't support our present veterans the young people will not continue to join the military," Bartlett said.

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