Mt. Pleasant's digital veterans' memorial wall is complete
U.S. Army veteran Earl E. Landy's chest swelled with pride recently as he peered into a digital portrait of his military past.
Standing before a 60-inch, flat-screen monitor, Landy looked on as his story of service during the post-World War II occupation of Japan unfolded in a vivid array of photographs and an accompanying anecdote.
“I was only 18 years old ... I could hardly carry my duffle bag. It was almost the same size as me,” said Landy, 85, of Mt. Pleasant Township, who received an honorable discharge in 1949 with the rank of sergeant fourth class following six months of training and a one year tour of duty.
“I think it's great to have something like this,” he said
Soon enough, all other area veterans will be able to have it, too.
On May 26, leaders of Mt. Pleasant Borough plan to officially dedicate the digital veterans' memorial wall at Veterans Park following the Memorial Day Parade.
The wall was designed by ITS Enclosures Inc. It will remain at the facility located at Westmoreland County Technology Park I near Mt. Pleasant until it is installed.
Industry Weapon Inc. of Pittsburgh was contracted to complete the wall's software.
At 8 1⁄2-feet tall and 950 pounds, the dark, aluminum slab encasing the wall's screen and inner workings closely resembles the four granite tablets bearing the names of local soldiers, airmen and sailors located to the right of the standing Veterans Wall in the park.
The digital device, to be installed among those tablets, will allow area citizens to honor military veterans, living or deceased, well into the 21st century, said borough Mayor Jerry Lucia.
“We started something in Mt. Pleasant when we started the Veterans Wall, and it was a success, but we ran out of space,” Lucia said. “This (digital wall) allows for the next generation and generations to come after that to share in the history of all of Mt. Pleasant's military veterans.”
Three years ago, former borough Councilman Michael Tabita, who was also chairman of the digital wall committee, brought the idea for installing the device to council. The wall committee then approached Samantha Dorko, a sales associate at ITS Enclosures Inc., to help bring the idea to life.
The committee, chaired by borough Councilman Larry Tate, also includes borough Manager Jeff Landy, Marie Dawson, Ed Mihalacki and Bob Rizzo — technology director of Mt. Pleasant Area School District.
“We just got tremendous commitment from all involved with making this happen. Mike (Tabita) started it off and Larry (Tate) did a fine job finishing it off,” said Joe Bauer, president of borough council. “It's also a way we can talk about the town's history. We're endless in what we can do with this.”
In March 2011, borough council voted to purchase the wall. The cost of $50,000 for the initial purchase came from the borough's reserve fund. The reserve fund will be reimbursed as money is collected from those who pay to submit local veterans' histories for presentation.
In addition, the borough will no longer have to spend money on additional granite tablets, which cost approximately $8,000 apiece, Landy said.
There was also an aesthetic issue at play, Landy said.
“We stopped at four tablets because anything more than that would have been a never-ending granite wall around the gazebo area,” he said.
The digital wall's touchscreen will help users to locate their loved ones on a list of names similar to that seen on the Veterans Wall and the tablets.
“It kind of gives you more of a connection,” Dorko said. “Not everyone knows everyone's military background or story, especially those who were lost. It's one thing to see someone's name up there, but to know how they were lost, in what way they served, and for how long they served.”
Tate's committee eagerly anticipates the wall's pending installation, he said.
“I think this is going to be a nice addition to Mt. Pleasant and to Veterans Park,” Tate said.
And it will be yet another reason to visit the borough's military tribute, Lucia said.
“No matter where I go in all my travels, when people hear I'm from Mt. Pleasant, they always talk about the Veterans Wall and Veterans Park and how wonderful it is,” he said. “It just makes me so proud.”
Submissions for the wall cost between $100 and $150. More information on the pricing options and submission requirements is available at www.mtpleasantboro.com.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.