A soldier's cross placed in Coaldale
CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS William Gaddes, left, and sculptor Andrew Chernak with the Soldier's Cross Chernak created for the Coaldale Veterans Memorial Garden. The Cross was dedicated at Memorial Day services Sunday.
The dedication Sunday of a Soldier's Cross in the Veterans Memorial Garden on Third Street in Coaldale marked the completion of the memorial project.
The cross was unveiled by a Panther Valley JROTC cadet following the second of the borough's Memorial Day services.
The cross, sculpted by Andrew Chernak of Springfield, Delaware County, is oriented toward the Garden's "Walk of Honor," which includes the names of 53 Coaldale men who died in World War II and Vietnam.
There are 53 Gold Star Mothers names in a corresponding walk. Interestingly, the names "Mary" and "Ann" comprise more than half the total of names, said Memorial Garden designer and U.S. Air Force veteran William Gaddes.
The Cross was blessed by the Rev. Daniel Matthewson, pastor of St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Coaldale.
The Memorial Garden project is now complete with the dedication of the Cross and a World War II Submariner's plaque.
Within the Memorial Garden is a Memorial to Women. That garden's centerpiece is a wishing well, designed and built by Gaddes. The well will eventually hold four 18-square-inch black granite images.
The images include one of Mrs. Mary Nesterak, Coaldale's last surviving Gold Star Mother. The image shows her holding a large photograph of her son, Capt. Norman Nesterak, who was killed in action in Vietnam.
The other images are of Coaldale women volunteers and nurses who cared for patients in a "flu tent city" on the Coaldale High football field during the 1919 flu epidemic; a World War II-era family. The husband and father, Frank Urban, is in uniform and on leave from the U.S. Army. Frank Urban is depicted holding his infant son, Robert Urban, while the child's mother, Mary, looks on.
The fourth image will be selected by the World War II Committee from several deserving candidates, Gaddes said.
The wishing well is covered with granite, and will contain a 28-inch granite statue of a World War II mother, he said. The mother will be flanked by a boy and a girl. They of course are waiting and praying for the safe return of their soldier father from "Harm's Way," Gaddes said.
"Thus the Women's Memorial Garden will portray and honor not only those who served and those who lost a son or daughter in combat; but also those women who loved, waited and prayed for their loved ones in the military," he said.
The committee hopes to complete the Women's Memorial in time for dedication at Memorial Day services in 2012.