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Fayette American Memorial dedicated

Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Fred Kridle of Uniontown and a member of VFW Post 8543 out of North Union Township, pauses briefly before performing 'Taps' at the beginning of the dedication of a 30-by-60-foot American Flag by The Fayette County Flag Committee on Sunday, November 11, 2012. The flag was flown at half staff and then raised after crowds honored those who has served the country.

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Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, 9:54 p.m.

After more than a decade of dreaming and planning, the Fayette County Flag and American Memorial Dedication finally became a reality on Veterans' Day.

Patriotic music and speeches filled the air Sunday morning at the Uniontown Mall where hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the dedication ceremony.

“We chose to follow history and thus selected this day to raise and dedicate the largest flag in Fayette County,” said Pam Moore, the mall's general manager and a member of the Fayette County Flag and Veterans' Memorial Committee.

During the ceremony, the 30-by-60-foot flag was raised from half-staff to the top of the 120-foot pole as the VFW Post 8543 Band played patriotic music.

“This project began as a dream of Mr. Dale Coughenour's over 10 years ago,” Moore said. “The Eberly Foundation made the first donation to start to make this dream come true. We stand here today, after quite a few years of setbacks and delays, to raise and dedicate our flag — the symbol of our freedom.”

Norman Zimmerman, committee chairman and president of the United Veterans of Fayette County, said the committee had to beg and borrow to make the project become a reality.

“We did beg a little,” Zimmerman said. “We didn't steal anything, but we did borrow pickup trucks, water pumps, generators, concrete vibrators and transits. We even borrowed laborers and equipment operators and volunteers to do a partial practice of raising on Friday afternoon.”

Zimmerman said the committee is not done yet.

“We must sell more engraved paving bricks, benches and monuments,” he said. “Donations are a big help. The people that bought paving bricks and benches years ago will get what they paid for.”

Norman's wife Cathy Zimmerman said she asked her husband to include her name on the list of those who would be speaking.

“I want to salute all of you here who are veterans and say thank you for doing what I know I could not,” Cathy Zimmerman said.

“This flag was the symbol for many immigrants, including our grandmothers and grandfathers who came here hoping for work and a new life,” she added. “They raised their families in our patch towns, became naturalized citizens and respected and followed the laws of this land.”

When she passes an honor roll, Cathy Zimmerman said she looks for the flag.

“And when the ‘Star Spangled Banner' is played, I am on my feet and always a tear or two rolls down my check. I love my country and flag and am glad that I was allowed to be here to tell you that... Norm I'm proud of you and all the people who made this possible.”

During the ceremony, Cindy Hanzes and Summer Olszewski of St. Vincent de Paul Society provided sign language to those who attended.

Lou Giachetti, president of the United Veterans of Uniontown and commander of the American Legion Post 51, gave a speech focused on “Respecting and Honoring Our Flag.”

“The flag of the United States of America is a living thing that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of our America,” Giachetti said. “We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live.

“We view the flag with devotion for it represents our national heritage of noble deeds, splendid accomplishments and untold sacrifices which combined to establish the moral character of our foundation,” he added.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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