Major Winters memorial project still going strong
The Winters Leadership Memorial Committee continues to embark on the latest phase of its goal to bring a monument and Veterans’ Plaza to Ephrata.
A monument to honor Major Dick Winters of Ephrata served as the original inspiration, but the project has transformed into a memorial complete with a Veteran’s Plaza which will honor all who have served in the armed forces. The committee has set up a Major Dick Winters Leadership Memorial Fund and is actively looking for individual volunteers as well as organizations and local businesses interested in helping to organize future fund raising opportunities.
The goal is to erect a reproduction of the Major Richard Winters Leadership Monument in his hometown and to house it in a veteran’s plaza. The original monument of Winters was erected in Normandy in 2012. A similar monument in Ephrata will provide a greater opportunity for Lancaster County residents and people from across the country to visit an historic site. It will also provide easier access for many veterans who might not be able to make the trip to Normandy.
Rebecca Gallagher is committee co-chair. She says the time and energy these volunteers put into the project is, in itself, a tribute to Winters’ noble example.
“Dick Winters set a high standard for hard work and dedication that the committee is trying to follow as we honor him and all veterans who served, with this memorial and plaza,” Gallagher said.
The innkeeper at Historic Smithton Inn on West Main Street knows there is a lot of work to be done, but she is positive it will become a reality.
One of the ways in which the committee is raising funds for the project is through the sale of commemorative bricks honoring veterans. Individuals may purchase these custom imprinted bricks (at a cost of $250) to commemorate their service or the service of a friend or family member. These bricks will take up permanent residency at the Winters Leadership Memorial in Veteran’s Plaza in Ephrata once it has been completed. The limited availability of the bricks means the committee is looking for greater community awareness and involvement in all facets of the project. The committee says that any funds raised beyond those that are needed to erect the statue will be donated to veterans groups including Wounded Warrior Project and the VA Hospital in Lebanon.
Gallagher also said they will be participating in a number of community events to help spread the word about the project and help raise funds. Check the website for more details.
Scott Shelley’s involvement in the project is a personal one. As the head football coach at Ephrata High School, Shelley has always encouraged his players to understand the roles they play not just in the locker room or on the field but in the community as well. Shelley credits his father with instilling in him that sense of civic responsibility and he sees his role as committee co-chair as a way to honor his father. “It’s an incredibly exciting project and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Of course, to all who serve in any capacity to do good things, there are many more examples to which Shelley derives inspiration. The project is a testament to the one for all, and all for one attitude that defined a generation. It’s not just about buying a brick. Oh no, it’s about much more than that.
“It’s my being able to honor my father, and show that I am every bit as proud of him as I am of Major Winters. It is honoring a very close friend of mine who was killed in action in Vietnam,” he said.
Shelley understands the unique opportunity that has presented itself to the community of Ephrata, where folks will have the chance to “publicly honor in perpetuity the great people that we love who answered the call of duty, with some giving the ‘last full measure’”.
Shelley envisions the plaza as being a source of inspiration to all who visit.
“I see a place where people will be able to sit on the benches and peacefully reflect or just walk along as you read the names of heroes from every generation that served as well as those who are serving our country today.”
Major Winters defined a generation with his selfless character and indefatigable spirit in the most trying times. His stoic example is a reminder that we live in a country forged out of heroism. In that respect, Winters has good company, and that is the point. Because while this project is a celebration of his service, it is every bit as much a tribute to the honor, courage and sacrifice of all who served.
“I strongly support the project,” says Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen. “I feel the statue as well as the surrounding veterans plaza, not only honors a native son, but all who have served to protect our freedoms. I look forward to having the project completed so we can have a monument to all veterans.”
For more information and to learn how you can get involved in the campaign to bring the monument and Veterans Plaza to Ephrata, visit www.facebook.com/WintersLeadershipMemorial. Their website is also now live, WintersLeadershipMemorial.org. It contains information on community events upcoming including fund-raisers for the project, as well as general contact information and forms for making donations and buying bricks.
Marc Anthony is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.