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Opinions vary on proposed veterans' monument wording

June 18, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

adamb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Although not quite set in stone, the proposed wording for a veterans' monument to be installed on Memorial Boulevard is being challenged by some as unfair to living veterans.

The monument, scheduled to be dedicated in November, will honor only those "who made the ultimate sacrifice," according to the proposal adopted by the Hagerstown City Council last month.

Ron Hovis, a Korean War veteran who is challenging the city on the wording, wants the Memorial Boulevard monument to recognize all veterans who served.

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"I have one goal," Hovis said. "I want to make sure that all veterans are recognized."

While some veterans agree with Hovis, others said they do not.

The Joint Veterans Council, a group that advised the city on the monument, endorsed the installation of the monument and supported the wording.

"We'd like to keep it simple," council President Tony Truchenski said. "We think Memorial Boulevard should go in conjunction with memorial, for those who died."

Truchenski said the road originally was dedicated as Memorial Boulevard in 1935 for those who died in World War I. He said there are other monuments in the city that recognize a broad range of veterans, including the Medal of Honor Triangle at the end of Jonathan Street and the Bloom Park Disabled Veterans Monument on North Potomac Street.

The council approved the installation and wording on the monument, which will be placed on Memorial Boulevard, adjacent to the entrance to Rose Hill Cemetery.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he has no problem with the proposed wording.

"I think the solution is to have a monument for the fallen veterans and another monument in another place to honor all the veterans," Metzner said.

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said she is not dissatisfied with the wording now, but added that she understands Hovis' concerns.

If the wording is to be reconsidered by the council, it would require the approval of three council members to put the issue back on the agenda. At least one council member will not endorse a change.

"I wouldn't change anything in the city for Mr. Hovis," Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said.

Other veterans agree with Hovis' argument that the monument should honor all veterans.

"I really think it should be to all veterans, not just to those who have fallen in combat," said Earl Baker, commander of AMVETS Post 10 in Hagerstown. He said veterans today might not have made the ultimate sacrifice, but very well could have.

However, Baker said he is appreciative that the city is taking the initiative to dedicate a monument for veterans, regardless of whether they are living or dead.

"I agree wholeheartedly that all veterans be included," said Hank DeLauney, a trustee for William D. Byron Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1936 in Hagerstown.

Albert Tharp, the service officer for the VFW, said as a veteran who was wounded while serving in Vietnam, he would like to see the monument honor all veterans.

"Whenever there's a war, there's suffering until the last wounded soldier dies," Tharp said.

Mary Burral, who was wounded in Iraq, said while the road originally was named to honor the fallen soldiers of World War I, many other wars and conflicts since have been fought.

"It's hard to say that it can stay like that," Burral said. "Yes, those people lost their lives, but everybody is put in that situation."

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