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Monument for Norwin-area fallen soldiers proposed

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The commander of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post has proposed building a memorial on the Norwin campus to honor local soldiers killed in combat during the Vietnam War and the wars that have followed.

“My thought was to have a memorial up at the school because it unites North Huntingdon, North Irwin and Irwin,” said Don Kattic, commander of VFW Post 781 and a retired Norwin history teacher.

“It makes sense to me to start with those who served in Vietnam because that was after the school district was formed in 1958.”

Kattic, 81, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 and served in the Korean War, previously has been involved in getting veterans memorials in Irwin, Oak Hollow Park and at the North Huntingdon Town House.

Kattic presented the idea recently to the Norwin school board, which asked him to return when details about the size, material and other features have been decided.

School director Darlene J. Ciocca said the board would have to approve the monument because it is on school grounds.

“I think it's a great idea to honor those who attended or graduated from Norwin and passed away in combat,” she said.

“I knew one of the soldiers who died several years ago, so I was very touched by Mr. Kattic's interest to remember these young people in some way.”

Kattic said the design, dimensions and the materials that would be used still are being discussed.

The cost and potential funding sources for the project also still are being developed, but he indicated that things such as shrubbery and other landscaping material that could used around monument might be available through a state grant.

“We're really just getting our feet wet with this, but I thought it was important to approach the school board to let them know what we're hoping to do,” Kattic said. “All we want from the district is permission to put the memorial on school property.”

Kattic said local historical societies likely will be asked to help research whose names should be on the monument.

School director Ray Kocak suggested that names be carved into the monument if the final design is made from stone to prevent vandalism. He noted that while bronze often is used for monuments, the metal is valuable and can become a target for thieves.

Kattic said all the suggestions offered by board members would be considered.

“The key here is that we are starting the process of coming up with a way to remember the sacrifice these young people made that will be around for a long, long time,” Kattic said.

“When you consider the sacrifice they made, putting up a monument in their honor is the very least we can do.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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