Following the lead of neighboring Silver Spring Township, the Hampden Township Veterans Recognition Committee is making headway in plans for a future veterans memorial to be constructed in the township.
Still in its infancy stages, questions remain with regard to where the memorial will be placed and what it will look like.
“We want to take our time to make sure we get it right and focus exactly on who we’re going to honor with the memorial,” Hampden Township Commissioner and committee chair Nate Silcox said. “Is it going to be any branch … all veterans? Or just Hampden Township veterans? We want to make sure we get all those questions answered.”
Though not a veteran himself, Silcox said he felt compelled to form the committee after he was appointed to the board of commissioners in 2010.
“This was one of my first priorities,” he said. “I’ve always admired military and veterans, and this is one of the ways that I can give back to them.”
“Driving into Hampden, we have our signs that say we support our military troops, and I like the motto, but I wanted to give it real meaning,” he added. “I had read about Silver Spring’s efforts, and I liked how they had the community involved in a committee.”
In April 2010, commissioners passed a resolution establishing the Veterans Recognition Committee. Five months later, in September 2010, the committee kicked off their efforts.
Appointed by the commissioners, the 10-person committee is composed of “members of the military, veterans, and civilians, like myself,” Silcox said, pointing out member Leon Lock, a Battle of the Bulge veteran who served in the U.S. Army. Lock was recently honored in the Mechanicsburg Memorial Day Parade.
Though the memorial remains a large component of the committee’s mission, Silcox and other committee members intend the Veterans Recognition Committee to serve a purpose beyond its construction.
“(We’re) really looking forward to having this committee become a lasting thing … something that’s long term, not just got the creation of the memorial,” he explained. “We’re looking for any way we can honor veterans.”
In addition to raising funds for the future memorial, the committee has assisted the commissioners in establishing rates for veterans and active members of the military at Armitage Golf Course and in adopting a statement of support for military employees “to make sure that the township appreciates the work that they do,” Silcox noted.
Through their speaker’s bureau, the committee sends members to speak at events and schools throughout the county.
“One of my hopes is that in 2013 we can do a reenactment here in Hampden Township (of) the Skirmish of Sporting Hill,” Silcox explained, referring to the 150th anniversary of the 1863 battle, a precursor to the Battle of Gettysburg.
According to committee member Gary Coburn, “We’re still trying to formulate our strategy, and we have some thoughts and ideas of where we’re going.”
Before anything, though, he pointed out, “We’re going to need some cash. So this year, we’ve been embarking on fundraising strategies.”
“After all the initial start up stuff, we knew it would be a long process, in terms of raising the dollars,” Silcox added.
Though the committee has no timeline for the project, “We kind of want to get some things up and running,” Silcox said. “It’s going to take money throughout the process.”
One way the committee is raising funds is through the sale of T-shirts, which are available for $10 each at the township building, the township swimming pool and at Armitage.
Each shirt features the committee’s logo on the front and the phrase, “We Will Always Remember,” on the back.
However, their biggest fundraiser to date is slated for the end of September – the Hampden Township Veterans Committee first annual Golf Tournament – Sept. 26 at Armitage.
“It’s going well … I’m encouraged. We’re excited about it. Our goal is to make it a premier event in Hampden Township, and Armitage has a good reputation as a golf course,” said Coburn, who’s chairing the committee for the event. “We want this to be successful so next year we have people asking to join, and we don’t have to do the asking.”
Of the Veterans Recognition Committee as a whole, Coburn noted with a laugh, “We’ve got more ideas than we’ve all got time.”
Link to the article in The Sentinel on cumberlink.com: http://cumberlink.com/news/local/article_4bfde514-b2c3-11e0-9a44-001cc4c03286.html