Teghan Sydnor attended the initial unveiling of the Voorhees Township Veterans Wall of Honor in 2014 to see her uncle honored for his service.
He was part of the inaugural class of 234 Voorhees veterans honored on the wall, located at Voorhees Town Center. Since then, the memorial has been expanded each year to remember and honor more vets.
Instantly, even at the age she was that year, Sydnor was amazed by the concept.
“I was 10 years old when I attended that first Veterans Wall of Honor ceremony for my uncle, and I was just really fascinated by the wall then and still have been ever since,” Sydnor said.
Now approaching the end of her high school career, Sydnor sought a worthy project for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Drawing inspiration from the wall of honor, she’s moving forward with a similar site in nearby Lawnside, where more of her family is located, and working closely with the Voorhees memorial’s creator.
“When I started to think about ideas for what my Gold Award project could be, I wanted to do something similar, but instead in Lawnside, since it’s one of the few predominantly black communities and my grandparents have lived there for many years now,” Sydnor said. “I’d just spent a lot of time in Lawnside throughout my life and wanted to be able to do something similar.”
She reached out for help from former Voorhees Township Municipal Clerk Jeanette Schelberg, who assists the township in maintaining and adding new veterans to the wall. Schelberg was flattered.
“She reached out to me and wanted to know some of the more basic things for getting the project underway, like finding veterans for the wall, contacting them, getting plaques, stuff like that,” Schelberg said. “We’ve been working on this since last October now, while she gets the different approvals that she needs … And I’m excited about it because it’s good to see younger people wanting to remember and honor these veterans who, for so many of them, were just kids themselves in some instances when they went off to conflicts.
“It’s exciting for me to see that the next generation is still going to remember these people,” Schelberg added.
The Lawnside project is not the first time someone has contacted her or the township for assistance in starting a veterans wall; officials in Washington Township reached out for assistance before unveiling their own memorial in 2019.
Now, what originally started as a one-year project in 2014 with the inaugural class of 234 veterans on the Voorhees wall, has since become an annual tradition within the township.
“Quite honestly, when we started out, we thought it was going to be a one-year thing,” Schelberg said. “But the reaction was so positive afterwards. The first year, we didn’t get as large of a response as we anticipated because people were a little weary, maybe thinking it was a scam … But after people saw it that first year, we blossomed from that, and we’re always trying to include new things and make it a little different as well.”
According to Sydnor, specifics for the Lawnside wall of honor — such as a location within the municipality and how many veterans will be inducted — have not yet been decided on, though information on veterans is being gathered.
Sydnor’s commitment to the project remains the same.
“My overall goal is to honor the past and present veterans of Lawnside, and it will be created to show a community appreciation for our veterans,” Sydnor said. “It’s still not determined where exactly it will go, but I’m in contact with the council persons and mayor there about where a good place would be for it to go, so it does have the chance to possibly grow over time.”
An exact unveiling date is not yet known, but Sydnor hopes to have the project completed later this summer.