By Renee Gannon
On Sept. 28, Grove City resident John Cummings and his family dedicated a memorial bench to Murfin Fields in honor and in memory of his son, Corp. Matthew R. Cummings, of the United States Marine Corps. Matthew was involved in a car accident on Parris Island, S.C. and died March 3, 2003, just one week before he was to be deployed.
In Matthew’s senior year at Grove High School in 2000, he married his high-school sweetheart, Shannon, became a father and enlisted in the Marines.
“He served in the Marines for approximately two and half years before his passing,” said John.
At the time of Matthew’s death, his son Matthew (Jr.) was 3 years old.
The bench was dedicated at Murfin Fields because the family spent a lot of time there when the children were growing up.
“It was like a second home to us and where we spent the majority of our young lives,” said Matthew’s sister Melissa Cummings Anthony. “My brother started playing soccer at the age of 4. My father and brother Mike both coached and refereed. We all took care of the fields and my father organized tournaments and other events for more than 20 years.”
This year marks the 15th anniversary since Matthew’s death and the family said they always felt they needed to do something to keep his memory alive.
“I carry the loss of my son with me always and I compare it to having a wound that won’t heal,” said John. “Sometimes the wound is covered by a scab and other times the scab gets ripped off to expose the open wound. That’s just how it is.”
According to John, the family considered planting a tree in memory of Matthew but Melissa had the idea of dedicating a bench to Grove City Kids Association (GCKA).
Billy Bowyer, GCKA president, said the contribution is a tremendous gesture by the family to Murfin Fields.
“We are thankful for Matthew’s service to our country and we are thankful to have the bench in honor of his memory,” said Bowyer. “Families will get to enjoy sitting on that bench for years to come.”
“I hope that when people sit on this bench, they take a minute to see my son’s name and be thankful for their own family and the memories that they are making here at Murfin Fields,” said John. “GCKA has been a huge part of our life. This is our chance to do something constructive and to give back for all the memories we have shared here at Murfin and its an opportunity to keep our son’s memory alive.”
A bouquet of red, white and blue balloons were released by the family at the end of the dedication. The bench faces the east where it will remain for many sunrises in the years ahead.