Mat-Su Veterans Wall of Honor hosts first ceremony at new site
After years of uncertainty, the Mat-Su Veterans Wall of Honor is finally in its new home.
On Sunday, several dozen people braved the high winds and freezing rain to honor their fellow servicemen and women at the site in Wasilla.
“Even though it’s cold out and miserable, all of our vets are right here,” said Hazel Schwulst.
Schwulst and her family personally engraved many of the more than 2,000 names on the wall. Their goal was for people to have a place to pay tribute to veterans both living and deceased.
“The fact they served and I was on the same team as them and we were ensuring the rights of Americans and freedom, it was great,” said J.R. Hackett.
Hackett is on the board of the Mat-Su Veterans Wall of Honor Foundation. He retired from the Air Force after 21 years of active duty. Both his name and his grandfather’s name are on the wall.
“Cliff Law, my grandfather out of Pinedale, Wyoming,” he pointed out through the ice sheet covering the granite panel.
Hackett and others on the board have been working for years to find a forever home for the wall.
The Mat-Su Health Foundation owns the property where the wall used to sit, on a hill near the hospital. Its CEO, Elizabeth Ripley, said the organization has no current plans for the land but it will eventually be used to accommodate the needs of the growing population in the Mat-Su.
The foundation pitched in more than $300,000 to help with the move; the Mat-Su Borough put up an additional $150,000. Together with the City of Wasilla, they all worked to find the best location and design for the Wall of Honor.
The new location off Wasilla-Fishhook Road will also be the site for the Wasilla police station. The City of Wasilla gave the veterans groups a 99-year lease with the option to renew for another 99 years.
“To me it is wonderful. It’s a beautiful place, they did a beautiful job and I’m so happy that we now have a permanent home for it,” Schwulst said.
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