GLEN DALE - It was around Memorial Day last year when Hayden Blazer first got the idea he wanted to honor veterans in a way people could enjoy for years to come.
Blazer, a student at John Marshall High School, comes from a family legacy of veterans. Blazer's late grandfather served in World War II and Blazer's uncle organizes Moundsville's annual Memorial Day service outside the Marshall County Courthouse.
"My grandfather was in Berlin, Germany during the war," Blazer said. "He loved to travel and he was really proud of what he did. He was big into the American Legion too, so he was always at memorials and helping people."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
John Marshall High School students Samantha Rulong and Hayden Blazer hold up a painting made by Rulong that will be on a future Veteran’s Memorial Wall at the school.
In honor of his grandfather and other local veterans, Blazer, with the help of the JMHS community, is working to build a memorial on a staircase in the school featuring black and white photos of veterans in Marshall County. So far, Blazer has 12 photos of local veterans, but he is hoping more families will send in photos to contribute to the wall.
The names and information of the featured veterans will be recorded in a small book.
The memorial also will feature a painting created by JMHS student Samantha Rulong depicting the historic photograph "Raising the Flag of Iwo Jima" and a quote by Moundsville author Gary T. Rider, which says "They are the reason we have the freedom that we have today." A flag donated by a teacher also will be displayed in a frame built by students in teacher Eric Booth's shop class.
"When the idea came up, it kind of built on itself," Blazer said. "We first wanted to get a bigger flag in front of the school and then it kind of grew from there."
This coming spring, JMHS will host a viewing of the memorial for the public to enjoy. Visitors will see a new lighted flag on the lawn in front of the high school that will be purchased with funds from the Marshall County Family Resource Network and Delegate Michael Ferro, D-Marshall.
"We wanted this memorial to be long lasting, something the kids saw every day and something we could add to over the years," JMHS Assistant Principal Jason Marling said. "Marshall County and West Virginia in general has a great reputation for contributing to the military. If you look at the names on the courthouse wall, it's enormous and we just wanted to honor that history. We are really proud of Hayden. He's done all the legwork for this."
Anyone interested in honoring a veteran may submit a photo to the memorial by calling John Marshall High School at 304-843-4444.