Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum received a check for $150,000 that is ear-marked for the construction of a 60-seat chapel on its O’Day Road property. The donation was presented last week by members of the Mary Penrose Wayne Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
It will be known as the Sterling Chapel in honor of longtime member Jeanette Thompson Sterling and is made possible through a bequest from her estate. In making the presentation, Linda Stafford, current regent of the local chapter of NSDAR, said that the Veterans Shrine had always been special to Jeanette and her husband, Don, who was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II. Their hope is that the chapel will become a place where veterans and their families can come to contemplate the sacrifices made by veterans during the Vietnam War and other American conflicts.
Construction of the chapel is expected to begin sometime in June and be completed by the end of the year. It will replace the chapel façade that presently occupies a space opposite the Vietnam Wall that is nearing completion now. Architectural designs are in the process and a rendering will be shown on site at the dedication of the replica of the Vietnam Wall on Saturday, May 29.
Shrine commander Greg Bedford said that “until a week ago we had no knowledge of the donation. We were pleasantly surprised and are deeply indebted to the NSDAR. The chapel will be simple and elegant and become a cornerstone of the 40-acre Memorial Park. It will be closely associated with the planned columbarium where veterans’ ashes can be interned in special niches that can be purchased by relatives. Doors at the rear of the chapel will open onto the columbarium.”
Prior to the dedication ceremony a “Watch Fire” will be held from Thursday at 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday morning. The ceremony, which includes speakers and special presentations, raising flags donated by the Ari Force Association Fort Wayne Chapter 43, will begin at 11 a.m. A shuttle service from BAE Systems across from Sweetwater Sound on U.S. 30 will bring visitors to the O’Day Road site starting at 8 a.m.
Vietnam re-enactors will be camped on site for the weekend and American Huey 369 Organization from Peru, Indiana, will give helicopter rides. Refreshments including “Liberty Dogs” and “Freedom Cheeseburgers” with potato salad, choice of chips and drink can be purchased for a $10 donation. Entertainment Saturday from 3-6 p.m. will feature Big D & the Penetrators. Sunday will be gospel/country singer Todd Allen Herendeen from 1-3 p.m.
For more information on the event go online to honoringforever.org or call 260-267-5022.