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Memorial shines again

October 01, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

ZULLINGER, PA. - "Today, we honor those of our own who served - brothers, cousins, fathers, all heroes."

The words of state Rep. Pat Fleagle echoed through the rain as he spoke to hundreds of local residents huddled under umbrellas Saturday at the rededication service for the Zullinger World War II memorial.

For some, the rain was a fitting backdrop for the ceremony.

"The sky was almost black in 1946 when we dedicated this the first time, so rain seems only right," said Paul Benchoff, a Washington Township supervisor and World War II veteran.

Sixty years ago, residents of Zullinger gathered for the first dedication of the memorial. Crafted of blue limestone and bronze, the memorial held a plaque with the name of every "son of Zullinger" who served in the war, some sadly with a star next to their name for paying the ultimate sacrifice.

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On Saturday, that same memorial, which time had diminished, was unveiled as restored. The restoration gave the community a new respect for both the memorial and those whose names it bears.

"I used to play on this (memorial) as a kid," said Keith Vinson of Florida.

The grandson of Brandt Vinson, the man who created the idea for the memorial, Keith Vinson said he could not imagine playing on it now.

Jeff Zody, president of the Zullinger Community Center Corp. and organizer of Saturday's event, said the day was to restore not only the memorial, but honor to those who served.

"We have about 20 men and women whose names are on the plaque that are still living, but all are remembered," he said.

Zody and his committee contacted each living veteran and the families of the others to personally invite them to the ceremony.

Fleagle hung a medal around the necks of those present who are named on the plaque. To each, he offered these words: "Thank you for your service to our country. God Bless you."

While the day held joy for friends reunited after years of separation, it also held a sadness for those no longer alive. Reading the roll call of names, Louis Barlup, former mayor of Waynesboro, Pa., had to pause to dry his tears.

"It was emotionally rough to read their names," he said. "I knew the vast majority of them."

The ceremony concluded with a salute to the veterans by the Honor Guard of Charles F. Nitterhouse VFW Post 1599, the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner and a final prayer.

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