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Those who served in Afghanistan, Iraq honored at Patriot Park dedication near Shanksville

Eric Kieta, The Daily American, Sept 03 2021

Approximately 75 people attended the dedication of Patriot Park on Friday near the Flight 93 National Memorial. 

The park is a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the global war on terrorism. Patriot Park Foundation President Randy Musser started the event asking for a moment of silence to honor 13 Americans lost in Afghanistan. The event’s program featured photos and information about those 13 Americans. 

The memorial, which is currently in its first phase, features 7,049 American flags in the field along Route 30. Each represents a soldier lost since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. 

“Patriot Park is not only to remember the fallen, but to thank those who have served,” Musser said. “These stories, they need to be told.”

Patriot Park Foundation President Randy Musser speaks Friday during the dedication of the global war on terrorism memorial.

One of those stories involves Stoystown native Brian Hause, a musician and who also enjoyed mechanics. He died in October 2008 in Iraq. 

His mother, Kathy Hause-Walker, pointed to a photo of him among others who died amid the conflicts in the Middle East.

“He’d be proud,” Hause-Walker said of the memorial that is dedicated to fallen soldiers. “I think he’d be amazed at what they’ve done.”

Gold Star mother Kathy Walker looks at a photo of her son, Brian Hause, who died in Iraq in 2008, during the dedication of Patriot Park Friday. Brian is pictured third from the bottom far left on the board.

The memorial is estimated to cost approximately $6 million to complete. An endowment of about equal value is also hoped to be raised to maintain the park for years to come. 

“I think we have something here in Somerset County we can be proud of,” Musser said. “This is just the beginning of Patriot Park.”

Friday’s dedication featured the Remembering Our Fallen traveling memorial, which features photos of each fallen soldier during the global war on terrorism. Artifacts from the war were also on display. 

Veteran Sean Parnell, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, was the keynote speaker. 

Army veteran Sean Parnell speaks Friday during the dedication of Patriot Park.

Parnell said he went to an Army recruiter two days after 9/11 when he was 22 years old. 

He said he saw the World Trade Center towers fall while he was a student at Clarion University. 

“In that moment I was shaken to my core,” he said. “I think what effected me the most that day is our first responders.

“It’s so important for us to never forget their sacrifice.”

Park board member Bob Munhall served 32 years in the Army, serving in both Vietnam and the Gulf War.

“This is a good use of this land,” Munhall said of the park. “We need to keep the momentum going.”

The park is eventually to include a Gold Star centerpiece made out of bricks with the name of each fallen soldier during the war on terrorism. Information boards about the war and soldiers are already in place.

Musser said the park will progress as funds are raised. He did not have a timeframe Friday for when the park will be complete. 

“There is a lot of support,” he said. “But there is a lot of work to be done.

“This phase is just to raise awareness.”

Follow Eric Kieta on Twitter at @EricKietaDA.

https://www.dailyamerican.com/story/news/2021/09/03/patriot-park-dedicated-fallen-soldiers-near-flight-93-memorial/5699638001/