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Stretch of Route 43 in North Union dedicated to veterans

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 10:57 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Vietnam Veteran Frank Voytek, of Uniontown, pauses a moment and gazes at the newly unveiled highway sign which is located along the Mon Fayette Expressway between Uniontown and Brownsville after an unveiling ceremony on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The section of roadway is now the POW/MIA/KIA Memorial Highway. Evan Sanders | Daily Courier
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Vietnam Veteran Frank Voytek, of Uniontown, walks past a covered highway sign which is located along the Mon Fayette Expressway between Uniontown and Brownsville prior to the unveiling ceremony on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The section of roadway is now the POW/MIA/KIA Memorial Highway. Evan Sanders | Daily Courier

The sign reads “POW/MIA/KIA Memorial Highway.”

For the family of the late Bill Shanaberger, and for his friends among the members of Vietnam Veterans Incorporated, Thursday's ceremony celebrating the sign along Route 43, in North Union, was bittersweet.

Shanaberger was one of the veterans who spent years pushing to have a section of the toll road, between Uniontown and Brownsville, dedicated to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.

“It is sad that Bill (Shanaberger) did not live to see this day,” said state Rep. Deberah L. Kula, D-Fayette/Westmoreland, who authored the legislation assigning the name to the highway section.

“If I saw him (Shanaberger) 100 times a day, 100 times I heard, ‘When's that highway going to be named?' ” said Kula.

On Thursday, she told the audience gathered at VFW Post 8543 in North Union that renaming a section of the highway to honor those who had been prisoners of war, missing in action or killed in action “was Bill's passion.”

“This highway is being named after all our veterans who have served our country with pride and dedication, to honor their service and sacrifice,” said Kula.

Frank Voytek, a friend of Shanaberger and fellow member of the VVI, met Shanaberger many years before. Voytek said Shanaberger joked about the name when they were unsure if the highway would be built.

“Bill said, ‘That's appropriate, we'll call it the MIA highway because it might never come about.' ”

Kula said many legislators in the state House and Senate were responsible for pushing the bill through, including state Rep. Peter Daley, D-Fayette/Washington; state Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Fayette; and state Sen. Richard Kasunic, D-Fayette.

Shanaberger's wife, Ruth, said her family wanted to thank everyone who made the naming possible.

“There aren't any words to express how thankful me and my family are for all you have done to make Bill's dream come true,” she said. “So, Bill, we know you are here with us today. And we miss you more every day.”

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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