Work completed on new veterans park in New Bethlehem, Pa.

Work completed on new veterans park in New Bethlehem, Pa.

By Evanne Gareis
Published in The Leader-Vindicator, New Bethlehem, PA

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After several years of preparation and dedication by a group of local veterans, work finished this past August on a new veterans park in New Bethlehem.

Nestled along Arch Street, Redbank Valley Veterans Memorial Park was a project spearheaded by Walter W. Craig Post 354 of The American Legion, with the vision dating back approximately eight years.

According to Legion post commander Ray Ishman, the Legion purchased the Arch Street property in November 2018, with construction on the park beginning in spring 2019.

While additional help with the project was offered along the way, a core group of 14 veterans — Carl Reese, William Dinger, Terry George, Michael Mazzocco, Bob Hodge (who passed away before the park’s completion), Larry Boddorf, Pete Barrett, Glenn Neiswonger, Clifton Sherry Jr., William Eberle, Robert Fink, Alan Delp, Gary Boddorf and Ray Ishman — were vital components of the park’s completion.

With the youngest being 65, the group of veteran volunteers moved 135 tons of limestone for drainage, placed 385 bags of mulch and helped construct a wall around the park consisting of 1,460 blocks.

The park is centered around three flagpoles showcasing the Pennsylvania flag, the POW/MIA flag and the American flag. Surrounding the flagpoles are five black granite monuments representing the five branches of the U.S. military, with corresponding flags, along with a monument for the Merchant Marines.

The park’s outer circle culminates at the back of the property with seven large black granite monuments, each depicting recognizable scenes from a specific war or conflict — the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam War and the Gulf Wars. Two walkways usher visitors around the park to view the monuments.

The park, which is ADA-accessible, also features two benches dedicated to POW/MIAs and all veterans, as well as 400 pavers depicting the names of veterans from the Redbank Valley that are clustered throughout.

Funding for the project was acquired through fundraising efforts, and private and corporate donations.

“Even though it was hard work, working with the guys was rewarding,” Ishman said. “I hope the community realizes that the nice things they are afforded today were paid for by someone else.”