Heroes Memorial Unveiled

Robert Knipple

posted November 03, 2011

November 3, 2011 (Johnstown, Pa.) – On Friday, November 11, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown will dedicate The Heroes Memorial, believed to be the only memorial of its kind on any college campus in the United States.  The community is invited and encouraged to attend the ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m., at the site of The Heroes Memorial (in the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the J. Irving Whalley Chapel).  A reception will follow the ceremony.

Nestled behind the J. Irving Whalley Memorial Chapel on the Pitt-Johnstown campus, The Heroes Memorial pays tribute to those who died on September 11, 2001 as well as the service men and women who have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Visitors to The Heroes Memorial are also greeted by two special granite panels that are reminders of the impact, especially on the children, of the lost lives and defines the wars' life-changing impact on our country.  The steel structure was donated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 

In describing the Memorial, Pitt-Johnstown President Dr. Jem Spectar offered, "This memorial serves as a teachable monument, a solemn signpost of ultimate service to country including by many college-age students.  It is a remembrance of the heavy burden borne by the fallen, the wounded, and their families and is a sober awakening to the obligations of citizenship, a clarion call to us all to be worthy of their sacrifice."

At the center of The Heroes Memorial is a 3,500 pound steel I-beam from the World Trade Center surrounded by the names of the more than 3,000 victims of September 11 as well as the names and ages of 1,729 members of the US military killed in Afghanistan and the 4,456 soldiers killed in Iraq through August 22, 2011.  The names will be updated periodically as the Pentagon releases the names of the fallen.  Currently, The Heroes Memorial contains 9,208 names. The Memorial also pays tribute to the more than 46,000 members of the military who have been wounded in hostile action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More than 5,550 of the service men and women who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were between the ages of 18 and 24, representing the traditional college-age population in our country and the Pitt-Johnstown campus. 

President Spectar added, "As monumental as this memorial to the fallen and the wounded may be, it is not enough, never enough, to simply thank them for their service.  Let us honor their service by being Citizens worthy of their sacrifice."

Pitt-Johnstown has been recognized three years in a row for its commitment to serving veterans by receiving a "Military Friendly School" designation by GI Jobs Magazine.  Through its signature MountainCat Veterans Program, Pitt-Johnstown recognizes the service performed by United States military veterans by assisting them in making a successful transition into the student population.   The school enrolls an average of 40 veterans each semester.