By Felicia A. Petro/Senior Reporter
GROVE CITY —
Grove City Council promised to support a wall honoring veterans in September.
Keith Stoughton, Mercer, spoke to council on Monday about the non-profit American Veterans Traveling Tribute/Traveling Wall, which will be coming to the borough Sept. 11 to 15.
Stoughton is also chair of Operation Joint Forces, including the Grove City Masonic Hall, which is sponsoring the wall event with American Legion posts in Grove City and Farrell; and Grove City Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 519.
"I birthed the idea, but reached out to various (veterans organizations)," he said.
The wall - which costs at least $9,500 to bring to a community - is a replica of the memorial honoring Vietnam veterans who died in conflict, which is permanently displayed at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., Stoughton said after the meeting.
Locally, the traveling wall will be displayed at the armory on George Junior Road. It is eight feet high and 360 feet long, he added.
The four-day display will include various activities, including a mock USO (United Services Organization) set up at the Masonic hall on West Main Street, where there will be food and entertainment.
Any proceeds will go to the actual USO, which provides entertainment and morale for troops in active duty overseas, and supports loved ones at home.
However, with the exception of concessions - and possibly war-era dances and a dinner at the Masonic hall - activities and the wall viewing will be free, Stoughton said.
"We're taking donations," he noted, which can be made out to Grove City Masonic Hall Special Event Fund.
Organizers are also looking for people to donate their talents, resources and time, which is what brought Stoughton to council on Monday.
He asked if the borough's police and fire could help with escorting the wall into the borough the first day it arrives, which will act like a procession to draw attention to it.
Stoughton also requested borough land for parking, especially in the park grounds behind the armory. It's expected that the wall will draw large numbers of spectators, he said.
Council members said they would be glad to help.
An Army veteran, the 48-year-old Stoughton said the wall will be a reminder to honor veterans who "paid the ultimate freedom." It's a way for people to realize that "freedom isn't free," he said. "it's to bring awareness."
Published Jan. 23, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.