Roxborough scout to upgrade Gorgas Park war memorial in honor of his grandfathers

 Residents gather at the monument in Sept. 2013 for a 9/11 memorial service. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

Residents gather at the monument in Sept. 2013 for a 9/11 memorial service. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks, file)

Chris Romano has attended memorial services for veterans at Gorgas Park with his grandfather for as long as he can remember. 

At the end of every event, he would take a picture with his grandfather and his cousin in front of the park’s 21st Ward War Memorial.

For his Eagle Scout project, Romano is looking to make some lasting changes to the memorial that has meant so much to his Roxborough family over the years. 

Romano plans to upgrade the landscaping in front of the memorial by leveling the ground and building a concrete platform with a brick wall. The light post in front that currently blocks the view of the monument from passersby driving down Mitchell Street will be removed, and lighting around the memorial will be updated.

He was inspired to take on the project by his grandfathers, who both served in World War II, and his cousin John Wynne III, who installed flagpoles in Gorgas Park for his Eagle Scout project a few years ago. 

“I wanted to do an over-the-top project for the veterans,” said Romano. 

Bruce Hoffman, who heads up the 21st Ward Veterans Association, said Romano and his grandfather Russell Harrison, who was involved in the association, first approached him about a year ago. Since then, Romano has spoken with local veterans, architects, engineers and the Friends of Gorgas Park to help him prepare for the project. 

“It’s a great opportunity to memorialize our local veterans and create a lasting, living legacy in the park,” said Hoffman. 

Both of Romano’s grandfathers have passed away in the past year, but knew about Romano’s plans. 

“I hope it represents what [my grandfathers] stood for and what they fought for. I want to dedicate it to them and all the veterans,” Romano said.

Romano is currently selling commemorative bricks to help raise funds for his project. The bricks will allow local families to inscribe the names of loved ones and will be installed on the wall of the platform. 

“Sometimes, veterans only get recognized on the holidays, but they are out there every day putting our lives in front of theirs,” Romano said.

Romano plans to complete the project by Memorial Day weekend of this year.

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