Town dedicates veterans memorial

A member of the Virginia Honor Guard hands the Virginia flag to Jimmy Haskins, left, to raise at Middletown's new Veterans' Memorial Wall on Friday. Jake Zuckerman/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – After months of hard work and fanfare, Middletown dedicated its new Veterans’ Memorial Wall on Friday to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

Along with the commemoration, project chairman Raymond Steele announced what was once Sixth Street has been renamed as Veterans Way.

Serving as the event’s keynote speaker, Col. Jay L. Marts thanked the hundreds of veterans in attendance for their service.

“I would like to say to you all, thank you for your service, even though most of you would simply say it was an honor and a privilege to serve,” Marts said.

Marts continued that in light of the recent election, he’s encouraged by President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to rebuild the military and fix problems with Veterans’ Administration health care systems.

However, he said it’s up to citizens to ensure politicians follow through with their promises, and encouraged the veterans in attendance to join veteran service organizations.

To officially finish the memorial, Scouts from a local Boy Scout troop helped raise a U.S. flag, a prisoner of war flag and a state flag on each of the monument’s three flagpoles, prior to a performance from James Wood High School’s marching band.

Speaking after Steele, Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV addressed the crowd of roughly 400 (including Del. Chris Collins and State Sen. Jill Vogel) to thank veterans for their service and to remark on the merit of the work the whole community did to build and pay for the memorial.

“This is the kind of stuff we need more of in this country, isn’t it?” he said.

In a follow-up interview, Harbaugh added he’s impressed with the Memorial Committee for having put the entire thing together in 10 months, a feat he called “unheard of.”

The memorial itself is a brick pathway through an arch lettered with “Freedom is not free.” This leads to a marble wall, reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., stamped with the seals of the different branches of the armed forces and a quote on war from St. Augustine.

The memorial can be found on the east side of Main Street in town, north of the Cedar Creek Battlefield. Donations and the purchase of commemorative bricks are still accepted to help fund the monument.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.