Honoring the brave

MIFFLINTOWN – A small crowd gathered Saturday morning to dedicate a new veteran’s memorial at the entrance of Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Albert Gray, of New Life Assembly of God in Mifflintown.

His wife, June, read a letter from Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou, dated July 14, 1861.

“I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter … how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution,” Ballou wrote to his wife, Sarah.

Gray said Ballou was fatally wounded in battle a short time after writing the letter.

During the ceremony, Private Donald E. Husler Jr., chairman of the Juniata County Re-enactors Association, said the memorial wall serves to honor and celebrate the men and women who have served or are serving in the armed forces.

“It is with much anticipation and gratitude to our friends and our veterans for being here,” he said.

The new black granite memorial wall was unveiled shortly after 11 a.m. as a crowd of about 50 people watched. One side of the monument reads, “Dedicated to all men and women from Juniata County who have served or are presently serving in the armed forces in the defense of our nation. Home of the brave – Land of the free – God bless America.” On the other side, small American flags wave above 11 gold medallions representing past wars. Behind the flags, a message reminds visitors that the wall was “Presented May 18, 2013, by the Juniata County Re-enactors Association.”

“Now we have a specific site to honor the dead and the living they have (fought in battle) so we don’t have to,” Husler said. “They placed their lives on the line when it mattered.”

The stone for the monument was donated by Michael Shimp and engraved by Foster Monuments. The stone facade was donated by Rickenbaugh Building Supply and masonry work was done by John Burns.