SLIGO – The Sligo Veterans’ Memorial Park, a project several years in the making, was officially opened and dedicated in a ceremony held Saturday morning at the site at the corner of Bald Eagle and Colerain streets.
More than 100 local residents, veterans and dignitaries attended the program at the new park, which was built on the site of the former Korner Restaurant which was destroyed by fire several years ago.
“It once held the cornerstone of our community,” Sligo resident Rachel Kindel told the crowd. “This corner where our restaurant once sat was the gathering place.”
After the fire, Kindel said, the community mourned it’s loss.
“The town had lost its place to come together; the corner sat empty,” she said. “Out of the ashes of that fire, a community once again came together.”
With the development of the new park, she said, “this corner continued to be our corner.”
“It represents what happens when a town is more than a town — it’s a community.” she said.
Sligo resident Connie Graham said that the project can trace its roots back several years to when she came together with Nancy Shook, Brenda Kindel and Anna Marie Laughlin to form the Hometown Heroes Committee that worked to place banners throughout the town featuring the names and photos of area veterans.
The group then began to look at the front yard of the Sligo Recreation Center to create a new park to honor the veterans. But those plans changed when Linda and Bill Himes, owners of the Korner Restaurant which relocated to a new location in Rimersburg after the fire, offered to give the prominent corner lot to the borough if it would be used for a veterans park.
Graham said that in November 2017, the planning shifted to focus on the new location; and with donations from the the VFW Post in Rimersburg, a grant from the Clarion County Commissioners, and donations from other veterans groups, businesses and individuals, the park project moved forward rapidly.
The work, Graham explained, was aided by countless hours of volunteer labor from local craftsmen and others, including Connell Kindel and Jerry Shook.
She also thanked the local fire department, borough employees and many others for the roles they played in bringing the park to life.
The park features a large central monument, which states: “May this monument serve as a special tribute to all the men and women from the Sligo area who sacrificed themselves serving our country so that all Americans can live in the Land of the Free.”
Four matching black granite benches are situated in front of the monument, with a large flagpole directly behind the monument. Trees, bushes and a flower garden area were also added to the park.
“Anytime something like this happens in the county, it makes you feel good,” Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan told the crowd. He said the county contributed to the project because it is the duty of those around today to make sure future generations do not forget the sacrifices made by the veterans who came before them. “They and they alone are the reason we are free.”
“It was a community effort,” state Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) said. “We rise from the ashes and we have our priorities straight. This is one more way we can share our rich legacy and history.”
The program, led by Sligo Mayor Jeremy Shumaker, also featured musical selections by the Union High School band, a song by local resident Madison Coy, and the raising of the flag by members of the Rimersburg-based VFW and American Legion posts. A luncheon hosted by the Sligo Presbyterian Church followed the program.
To complete the look of the park, committee members are now selling bricks that can be purchased to honor local veterans. The bricks will be placed along the main sidewalk leading to the monument.