Veterans Memorial Monument group disbands

Jan. 25—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — In 1987, Veterans Memorial Monument Inc. formed with the mission of creating a tribute to the men and women who, throughout the nation's history, represented Cambria County in the military.

That monument — with a granite sphere and eagle, pillar, emblems for the armed services branches and a wall commemorating conflicts from the Revolutionary War through Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom — still stands today in Johnstown's Central Park.

The organization has done numerous other veterans-based projects, totaling almost $500,000 in contributions to the community.

But now, Veterans Memorial Monument has come to an end.

The group ceremonially turned over its last $2,000 on Wednesday to Discover Downtown Johnstown Partnership, which will continue the upkeep of the monument in the park.

"We're somewhat of an aging board," Veterans Memorial Monument Chairman Bob Eyer said. "Discover has younger people. Why not join forces with them? We thought we would terminate our organization, transfer our funds over to them, and continue to help them, which, to a great extent, many of our board members work with Discover anyway on the park cleanup and the other activities."

DDJP President Melissa Radovanic said the donated money will go toward upgrading the monument's lighting.

"It's an honor for us because I know what this group has accomplished over the past two decades or so, especially with their work here in Central Park and other places around the town," Radovanic said. "Out of all the organizations they could have chosen to merge with or donate the money to, Discover is very honored to be able to carry this torch for them."

Veterans Memorial Monument's other projects included helping renovate the gazebo in Central Park, providing plaques for the Cambria County Military Hall of Fame, installing a monument commemorating President Franklin Roosevelt's visit to Roxbury Park, and producing a movie about Iwo Jima flag-raiser Marine Sgt. Michael Strank.

"The group has kind of become a family," Veterans Memorial Monument Secretary/Treasurer Claudine Seitz said. "You get to know them, you participate in all these projects together.

"The Strank documentary was a really big accomplishment. I never expected I'd be part of something like that."