Honoring Those Who Served

The initial planning committee meeting for the visit of the Cost of Freedom Tribute exhibit will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Training Center at the former West Virginia Penitentiary.

It is anticipated that there will be several meetings leading up to the arrival of the exhibit, which will be available for viewing Aug. 22-26 in Moundsville.

Also, sometime this month, a representative from American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) will be in Moundsville to meet which the committee to outline what the committee and the community need to do in preparation for, and what is to be done while the exhibit is in Marshall County.

The exhibit’s visit is being spearheaded by the Moundsville Economic Development Council (MEDC), the Moundsville Activity Committee (uptown businesses) and veterans organization.

It was pointed out in a letter to the planning committee that The Cost of Freedom exhibit is not a war memorial and should never be defined as such. Instead, it is described as a tribute to service and sacrifice.

The committee plans to involve the entire community, church groups, civic organizations, schools, children’s groups, law enforcement, firefighters, ROTC members, National Guard and military Reserve groups and local recruiters.

Local and state Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion members will be asked to be active in this tribute, along local businesses, schools, school bands and choirs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

AVTT, which was founded on the principles that American heroes must be honored and remembered, travels the United States with the CFT to provide a forum for communities to come together to honor-respect-remember all those who have been asked to stand in harm’s way to protect and defend our country and freedom as a way of life. AVTT is a veteran-owned project, and is is funded through sponsorship fees, donations, and sale of merchandise at events.

Through its various programs and tributes, AVTT is fostering the education and building the appreciation of youth in the sacrifices made by countless men and women in defense of freedom and the way of life they enjoy.

Suzanne Park, executive director of the MEDC, states that while a Traveling Vietnam Wall has been in West Virginia, “To my knowledge this will be the first visit of the Cost of Freedom Tribute to West Virginia.” She notes that while the Traveling Vietnam Wall – an 80-percent scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be a part of the Cost of Freedom Tribute, there will be many other exhibits.

Park said, “The traveling tribute is described as a true depiction of the great sacrifices made throughout the history of the United States and that it consists of displays representing statistics from every war/conflict in which the United States has been involved.” In addition there will be:

  • A series of World War II panels portraying the entire timeline of events.
  • A Korean War tribute representing the timeline of the entire conflict with corresponding battle maps and photos.
  • A timeline, series of facts and figures, and a display of art from Vietnam veteran artists depicting patriotic and veteran themes.
  • A display of United States founding and significant historical documents including the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and other historical documents.
  • Panels for honoring law enforcement and firefighters with pictorial display.
  • A panel memorializing the casualties at the Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 shooting.
  • Photographs of each of the commanders-in-chief throughout history.
  • A 9/11 tribute with the names of all 2,984 casualties organized by where they were located at the time of death.
  • A one-of-a-kind “Gold Dog Tag” display, a tribute which honors those who have fallen and to which there is not currently a memorial for their honor and remembrance.

The initial cost to bring the event to Marshall County is $9,700 and the organizers anticipate at least another $15,000 in additional costs will be needed to cover such things as security, setup, advertisement, lodging, meals and other incidentals.

The organizers have received a commitment from the city of Moundsville for services in setting up the 360 feet replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Jefferson Avenue between Eighth and Tenth Streets, which means that the street will be closed.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History has agreed to permit the utilization of the Grave Creek Archaeological Complex for the auxiliary walls on their site.

A financial commitment has been received from the Bellaire/Belmont County Veterans Service Offices, and Comcast has agreed to be a sponsor.

The organizers will be seeking other financial commitments in the near future.

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The Cost of Freedom Tribute is one of several special events being planned during 2012 in Marshall County. Among others are:

The 12th annual Elizabethtown Festival, the observance of West Virginia Day, and the second annual Zombie Walk

These and the other events will be part of efforts to attract tourism to Marshall County.

One of the anchors of the Marshall County Tourism Committee is the MEDC, the lessee of the former West Virginia Penitentiary which brings annually thousands of visitors to the area through its many activities.

The tourism committee is making great progress with defining packages for groups coming to the area, finding better ways to market the attractions and assisting in all tourist sites in Marshall County.

According to Park, this past year the Dungeon of Horrors had a record-breaking attendance.

Paranormal events, held at the former WVP, have become a big tourist attraction and this past year there were 86 sold out events, and thus there will be 108 events paranormal events in 2012.

By the way, the 2012 Dungeon of Horrors begin the weekend of Sept. 29-30, and will be held during the following five weekends.