The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 11, 2011

[VIDEO] Pitt-Johnstown monument to heroes dedicated

— Amid a crowd of quiet onlookers, some in military uniform, Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar on Friday dedicated the university’s Heroes Memorial, a monument to the Sept. 11 attacks and the twin wars that followed.

About 200 people gathered alongside the memorial, a set of 12 granite slabs surrounding a 3,500-pound steel beam recovered from the World Trade Center’s rubble.

Inscribed on the slabs are 9,208 names: Every Sept. 11 victim and every American combatant killed prior to Aug. 23 in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each soldier’s name is accompanied by his or her age, many no older than the students in attendance: “19,” “20” and “21” pepper the granite panels.

“These kids are our age,” said Cliff Maloney, Pitt-Johnstown’s Student Senate president. “It’s not just the older gentlemen, the older women – 5,500 of these names are college-aged.”

The handful of student veterans in attendance stood at attention and saluted as the university choir sang the national anthem.

Brian Gindlesperger, a Pitt-Johnstown senior awarded a Purple Heart after a 2004 roadside bombing in Iraq, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance while a light snow fell.

“Service is a choice to give or sacrifice something you value,” Gindlesperger, a Marine, said from a podium at the monument’s entrance.

“I challenge each of you to ask yourselves, ‘How do I serve?’ ”

The intersection of education and military service was a common theme as politicians, university officials and instructors took the podium.

“It’s right and fitting that we have a memorial here, at one of our institutions of higher learning,” said state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont. “It seems that history books dictate that peace is that short interim between wars and conflicts.”

Kristen Majocha, a Pitt-Johnstown communications instructor and Navy veteran, told onlookers she sought a graduate degree in part to understand the nationwide sense of confusion that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

As the choir sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and the sun began to shine past the clouds for the first time in the ceremony, Spectar called veterans to join as he and Gindlesperger laid a wreath along one of the stone slabs.

A few spectators remained to inspect the twisted steel beam and the two slabs left conspicuously blank for future Iraq and Afghanistan war dead.

Contractors including Milkie’s Lawn & Landscape, Dolan’s Welding and Altoona Neon & Sign Service were involved in the project, the price of which is not yet known, university spokesman Bob Knipple said.

Campus Physical Plant workers helped fix the granite blocks to their aluminum frames.

“I have a relative who had a law office … right across the street from the World Trade Center,” said physical plant worker Richard Kesselak, who attended the ceremony. “To get something like this – it’s something special.”

Two students, firefighters at home, remained after the ceremony ended.

“The World Trade Center … I hold it close to my heart,” 21-year-old Joshua Sherrid of Steelton said. “I like to go out and support my brothers.”

Nate Myers, a member of the Riverside Fire Department based in Stonycreek Township, said the monument could be a sort of pilgrimage site for those like him.

“You’re gonna see an influx of emergency workers here,” he said.

For the generation in grade school on Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks and the wars that followed can finally come into full perspective at college and military age, Maloney said.

“ ‘Never forget’ spread across America as a motto,” he said.

“Here at Pitt-Johnstown, we will never forget.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • fire_23 Investigators seek cause of West End fire

    The cause of a five-alarm fire early Monday at a vacant structure in the 500 block of Dorothy Avenue in Johnstown’s West End has not been determined, according to city fire officials.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland seeks loan for roof, HVAC work

    Richland Township’s plans to replace the municipal building’s roof and heating and air conditioning system will cost nearly $600,000, Solicitor Gary Costlow said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Undocumented children already arriving in state

    An influx of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border is spilling over into Pennsylvania, as state officials received word Monday that more than 500 are being housed in the commonwealth.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auditor cites flaws in gas drilling regulation

    Strained by limited resources and the rapid expansion of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, environmental regulators have failed to adequately monitor well safety or to provide clear and timely information to citizens, the state auditor general said Tuesday.

    July 22, 2014

  • Driver in fatal DUI crash will serve jail time

    A Vintondale man was sentenced Tuesday in Cambria County court to serve 16 to 32 months in the county jail for a 2011 alcohol-related crash that killed a woman.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 22, 2014

  • Reade Twp. water projects receive funding

    Three water treatment systems in Cambria County will receive financial assistance from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove acid mine drainage from nearby waterways.

    July 22, 2014

  • stoystown Tractor Fest Antique tractors chugging toward Stoystown fest

    A display of a whole lotta horsepower and pulling contests will highlight the 14th annual Antique Tractor Festival.
    Sponsored by Stoystown Lions Club and Laurel Highlands Antique Power Club, the event will be held July 31 through Aug. 3 at the Lions’ park, one-half mile east of Stoystown on Route 30.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Irish dance school wants to set toes tapping in Cambria County

    If you ever wanted to learn to dance an Irish jig, now is your chance.
    Kenny Cavanaugh School of Irish Dance, based out of Milford, Pike County, is expanding into Cambria County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State for $1M

    A son of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has sued the university over his dismissal from its coaching staff two years ago, saying he has been unfairly linked to the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

    July 22, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads