For Jack Sommer, the true story of fallen U.S. soldiers is in their prom pictures, sports photos and family albums.
Sommer, managing partner at Prospect Hill Cemetery, is working with local businesses to develop a digital memorial honoring soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 10-foot-by-12 foot, black-granite monument will have a kiosk that will show images -- on a rotating basis -- of soldiers who died. The kiosk would include information about the soldiers' births, deaths, hometowns and places of service.
Monument construction is expected to begin this fall, with plans to activate on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
"This monument is for all our fallen heroes from all over the nation," Sommer said. "There's been at least 6,400 losses between the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We want families (nationwide) to know we're remembering the sacrifices of the ones they lost."
He said the kiosk will feature family-submitted photos showing the soldiers growing up, having fun times with loved ones, or doing their favorite activities.
How it will work: Sommer said he plans to work with Gold Star family and mothers groups -- who lost relatives to war -- to let families nationwide know that they can submit images and information for the digital monument. He said a digital system will be developed to accept families' submissions for the kiosk.
The kiosk's 46-inch hi-brite LCD touch-screen monitor will face the street in the 700 block of North George Street, where the cemetery is located, Sommer said.
Once the new monument's kiosk is activated, the public will be able to look up specific soldiers, he said.
"Hopefully, people will pull in and park and spend a few moments for a while to see the faces of the fallen," Sommer said. "We want to use the latest technology we can to show what the (soldiers') families sacrificed, to help people understand the void in these families' lives."
The monument will be situated near the Afghanistan flag memorial and on the same spot the cemetery retired and buried -- on Dec. 4, 2010 -- 4,427 American flags honoring the memories of soldiers who died in Iraq.
At that time, Sommer announced that the cemetery would develop a permanent memorial for the soldiers.
Helping hand: The monument's screen is being donated by Livewire Digital, located at 1805 Loucks Road in West Manchester Township. The company also is developing and donating the software, programming, user interface and database services needed for the kiosk.
"The idea of the memorial honoring those that have fallen in the line of duty is something everyone should keep in their minds and support," said David McCracken, the company's president and chief executive officer. "I know (soldiers) who died in action."
Gamlet Inc., at 1750 Toronita St. in Manchester Township, will donate the hardware, metal fixtures and the expertise needed for the project, said company president David Cutright, who served in the U.S. Navy.
"This (project) is near and dear to my heart," he said. "It's a fascinating project. I'm a veteran, and Sommer is one of the top patriots I ever met in my life."
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or email@example.com.