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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Vetstock brings Wall of Remembrance to Pike

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  • MATAMORAS - A celebration of veterans uniting to honor other veterans, the third annual Vetstock occurred last weekend at the Veterans Memorial Park in Matamoras. At the annual event, funds are raised for veteran organizations and this year, the Wall of Remembrance was presented with the “names of the 10,803 victims of terror,” said Tom Ryan the president of Vetstock and a veteran advocate. The victims, he added, were “murdered simply because they were American.”
        After visiting the Wall That Heals for the fallen from the Vietnam War, JR Nicholas, one of the creators of the Wall of Remembrance, said he was inspired to do something. Nicholas constructed the memorial with his friend David Brown who is a Marine. Initially, the memorial was supposed to be shown one time, instead, Saturday was the 45th time the public has seen the Wall that has traveled over 20,000 miles.
        The memorial arrived in Milford, Thursday with a full escort and was transferred to the Veterans Park in Matamoras Saturday, also with a full escort. Nicholas said he decided to bring the Wall to Vetstock, because of how many people were affected by the September 11th attacks in the tri-state region.
        Because of the dedication of his father, stepfather and grandfather who served, Nicholas said he was also inspired to build the Wall and transfer it across the country. His biggest motivation however, came from a visit to New York City on October 11, 2001, when he changed his trip from a vacation to a time of recognizing the unity that many Americans share. Nicholas helped create banners that showcased thousands of American signatures and was delivered to every fire and police station, where he spoke with rescue workers.
        From the 10,000 names of the fallen, with the 3,000 that were murdered, Nicholas said emotions are often obvious as people view the memorial, sometimes appearing in a state of shock with the graphic images that are on another memorial. Peoples’ responses are “awesome” however, because they still care and support the military. The shock, he said, is interesting because people aren’t fully aware of the effects of the war, due to the way the media portrays the imagery and facts. Without the appropriate information, Nicholas said there are people who don’t believe there is a war going on.
        A former Marine, Derrick Hendershot delivers the memorial with Nicholas, but part of why he does it, he explained is because of his two friends that are on the memorial. When he first learned of the Wall of Remembrance, Hendershot worked to have it visit a college he was attending in California. Today, he loves delivering it to colleges “because of the importance.” He explained that with political science teachers and the way many courses are taught, the memorial “just kind of tells it how it is, it’s not left or right, it’s just the facts.” When someone sees the Wall, he added that, “Now you’re left to do your own assumptions.”
    Page 2 of 3 -     Aside from educating people, Hendershot said the memorial is a way to ensure the victims aren’t forgotten. Plus, the Wall is a way to bring veterans together as it is called “the front porch,” where people from various organizations work together to present it to the public. A healing point for Hendershot occurred last year, when the memorial was delivered to Eisenhower Park in Long Island, where his one friend was from, and he was able to show the family that his friend “didn’t die in vain.”
        The keynote speaker Saturday and the President of the Executive Council for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO at the United Airlines, Ken Diaz spoke about his cousin Angel, who perished September 11 and how he talked with members of his “flight attendant family” from Flight 93 before their shifts began.  
        Honoring the flight attendants who acted like first responders, Diaz said was “absolutely critical,” for the rest of the family to continue on. The flight attendants, pilots and passengers, he noted were the “first to die in a war we didn’t know we were fighting at the time.” As people continue to honor those who perished, Diaz said, “let us celebrate our unity, our compassion for one another and our resolve to protect all of the freedoms of individual expression that our country so proudly exhibits.”
        Since the September 11 attacks, Diaz said flight attendants go to work more aware of their responsibilities, knowing they are the first responders to emergencies and the nation’s “last line of defense in aviation security.” Having escorted thousands of American soldiers on their way to fight, Diaz said its painful knowing the soldiers may not return. For those who do return, they deserve immense support and love. The memorial, he added is “not just a promise to remember those we’ve lost, it’s a solemn vow that we learn from these events and never allow them to be repeated.”
        Nicholas told those in attendance Saturday, that he plans to deliver the memorial within 50 miles of every hometown that is represented on the Wall.
        In attendance Saturday, was Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Baker and Representative Rosemary Brown who received plaques to recognize their work for veterans. Diaz was also recognized.
        A Vietnam Veteran, and a member of the American Soldiers Statue Committee, Harry Nolte Jr., was working the event Saturday, where he cited a quote he read on a statue from Iwo Jima, ‘They gave all of their todays, for all of your tomorrows.' The quote, Nolte said, “resonates through every war, every one of us who saw hell. If you’ve lived it, you can never forget it and if you forget it, you’re a fool.”
    Page 3 of 3 -     Talking about the different battles Americans have fought, Ryan said that, “Patriotism and love of country are one with you and your spirit. You are not able to leave it, or walk away.”
        To learn more about Vetstock visit http://vetstockusa.com/. To learn more about the Wall of Remembrance visit http://www.vision2victory.com/.

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