The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 1, 2013

Where a new monument to honor area veterans will be unveiled today

Frank Sojak

— A monument to honor Seward area veterans is scheduled to be unveiled and dedicated at 10 a.m. today at Seward’s Memorial Park.

The $9,000 stone is the first veterans monument in the Westmoreland County town and is meant to honor not only veterans from Seward, but those from neighboring St. Clair Township as well.

The project was led by the Veterans Monument Committee, which was formed by borough council at the request of Gene Huey, a Seward resident who retired as an Air Force sergeant in 1974 after 22 years of active duty.

Huey, who will be the keynote speaker, will talk about the importance of honoring veterans. He also will talk about how the community came together to support the project.

“The businesses and residents are wonderful,” said Huey, a member of the monument committee. “I cannot praise them enough. It only took eight months to raise enough money to pay for the monument.”

The monument adds to the pride that Huey feels about this country.

“Being a veteran myself, I just love the military, and I love the U.S.,” he said.

Pat Heming, another member of the monument committee, said other speakers at the dedication will be Jordan Frei, an aide to state Rep. Mike Reese, R-Mount Pleasant, and Westmoreland County Commissioner Char­les Anderson.

“It (monument) means a lot because there are so many veterans in the Seward and St. Clair area,” Heming said.

On either side of the monument are a POW-MIA banner and a banner depicting all the branches of the military, she said.

Heming likewise is proud of the generous support of residents and businesses for the project.

The monument committee soon will begin the second phase of the project, erecting American flags on a utility pole in honor of veterans, she said.

Residents will be able to purchase the flags in honor of their loved ones.

The money will go toward maintenance of the monument, Heming said.

Borough Councilwoman Fran Hajjar, another committee member, said it was important to do the project to honor veterans and our country.

“It also is a reminder that freedom is not free,” she said.

She said that the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in New Florence also was a generous contributor to the project.

Seward police Chief Robert Malnofsky said the monument will serve as a reminder to the generation now growing up that freedom is not free.

“It’s to remind them of the sacrifices of our servicemen and women,” Malnofsky said.

Donating their time to install the footer for the monument were Seward Mayor Anthony Hajjar and Councilman Dave Croyle Sr., both veterans; and Councilmen Butch Penrose and Brian Custer.

Also on the monument committee is Sandra Mitchell.

The monument was created by Clear View Memorials and Monument Co. of Berlin.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at