On November 11, 2021, Pitt-Johnstown unveiled a digital version of The Heroes Memorial at The John P. Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness.
The Heroes Memorial and new digital exhibit include the names of the more than 3,023 victims of September 11, as well as the names and ages of 2,433 members of the US military killed in Afghanistan and the 4,468 soldiers killed in Iraq through August 22, 2021. More than two-thirds of those killed in the line of duty were of college age.
Among the names of the 9,924 fallen heroes displayed at both memorials are the names of four Johnstown natives who gave their lives during Operations Enduring Freedom, Freedom’s Sentinel, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn: Christopher Allen Golby (26), Raymond Richard Buchan (22), Joshua Mikeasky (19), and Aaron James Rusin (19).
Dedicated at 11:11 a.m. on November 11, 2011 (11:11, 11-11-11), The Heroes Memorial has received national media attention for being the first memorial of its kind on a college campus that recognizes the casualties of both from September 11, 2001, and the battles that ensued in Afghanistan and Iraq. Making The Heroes Memorial even more unique is the inclusion of the age of each of the heroes recognized.
The Heroes Memorial was the vision of Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar following notification that the school had been chosen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as one of the locations across the country to receive an artifact from the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers. The 3,500-pound steel I-beam recovered from Ground Zero is the focal point of The Heroes Memorial.
Created as an area of quiet reflection where individuals can pay their respects to our national heroes, The Heroes Memorial has been visited by tourists from across the United States and recently served as a teachable monument for dozens of Richland School District students who visited the Memorial on this year's 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The newly created digital Heroes Memorial, also believed to be the only digital repository of its kind, is displayed in the Veteran’s Lounge of The Murtha Center and includes the names, ages, and hometowns of those lost in service to their country and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The long-term goal for the digital memorial is to expand the content to provide an even more in-depth profile for each of the heroes.
The Murtha Center for Public Service and National Competitiveness, opened on April 6, 2017, honors the late Congressman John P. Murtha’s public service and legacy with an exhibit that provides access to the Mr. Murtha’s Congressional Papers, a collection of personal documents and possessions donated to the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 by Joyce Murtha.
John “Jack” Murtha was a former Marine Corps officer and was the first Vietnam War veteran elected to in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until he died in 2010. Jack Murtha dedicated his life to public service, serving his country both in the military and in the Halls of Congress. During his long and distinguished career in the U.S. Marine Corps he was awarded a Bronze Star with Combat V, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Upon his retirement from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1990, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal by the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Mr. Murtha was a highly decorated Marine who exemplified the Corp’s code of honor, courage and commitment. As a congressman, Mr. Murtha was a tireless champion for our veterans and active-duty servicemen and women. I cannot think of a more fitting place to honor and remember our fallen heroes,” said President Spectar.
The digital exhibit was designed by Joseph Jeffrey Sernell, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Information Technology, and Bob Knipple, Executive Director of Housing and Dining Services.
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown has been recognized, for the 10th consecutive year, as a Military Friendly Schools by Victory Media. The Military Friendly Schools list is the premier media source for military personnel transitioning into civilian life.