Committee to present plan to save decaying Harrison World War II memorial |
Valley News Dispatch

Committee to present plan to save decaying Harrison World War II memorial

Brian C. Rittmeyer
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
The World War II Honor Roll memorial at Freeport and Springhill roads in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
A chunk of stone is missing from the World War II Honor Roll memorial in Harrison. Photographed on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Traffic passing on Freeport Road is reflected in the glass of the World War II Honor Roll memorial in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.

A memorial to Harrison’s greatest generation is in such bad condition it may not survive the winter unless action is taken to save it.

A volunteer committee has come up with an $80,000 plan to restore the 74-year-old Honor Roll memorial at Freeport and Springhill roads and will present it to township commissioners at their meeting Monday.

Harrison has budgeted $30,000 to spend on the memorial this year, Commissioners President William Heasley said.

The committee will be asking commissioners to provide just over $10,000 immediately to pay for a restoration company to stabilize the memorial before winter, said Joe Musco, co-chairman of the committee and commander of the Natrona Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

“We were told if we didn’t take care of this before winter, it would collapse,” Musco said.

The memorial lists the names of more than 2,000 Harrison residents who served in World War II. It was dedicated on Oct. 29, 1945, and turned over to the township on May 24, 1965.

The monument is cracked in many places and coming apart in chunks. The glass panels over the names are hazy and cracked, as are some of the panels upon which the names were painted in gold.

The names themselves are fading — some to the point of being unrecognizable.

It was pressure washed earlier this year to remove the dirt and soot staining it.

A call for volunteers to serve on a committee to address the memorial’s condition went out in the spring. Musco and David Zembrowski of the Natrona American Legion co-chair it.

Clayton Falkner and William Rudolph are overseeing design, while William Rudolph and Jim Erb are heading up finance. Eric Bengel is handling communications.

Historical curator impressed

Michael Krause, a curator and historian at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh, inspected the memorial earlier this year and gave advice. He had not seen the memorial before the committee contacted him.

“I’m very interested in war memorials. I think they are really important to communities. They also reflect the time that they were built,” Krause said. “I’m a traditionalist. I like to try to keep things looking the way they are, if possible.”

Krause said he’s surprised the memorial is still standing.

“It’s in a very busy intersection and very close to neighborhoods, which usually invites graffiti or damage,” he said. “The community respects the monument.”

Etched granite sought

Musco said their plan would see the panels of painted names replaced with black granite upon which names would be etched. That would cost about $28,000 and take four months to complete.

“We’re also going to correct some errors made on the monument in the past, such as some names that were forgotten or misspelled,” he said.

In addition to restoring the honor roll, Musco said they want to enhance the area with the addition of benches and a new memorial thanking all veterans for their service.

Heasley said the township may also put in a couple of parking spaces to make getting to the memorial easier. Traffic on Freeport Road, Springhill Road and Broadview Boulevard whizzes by in three sides and the fourth side is a narrow strip of grass.

Musco said the committee is brainstorming fundraising options to help pay for the work.

Heasley said the township will budget more money for it; he’d like to see at least another $30,000 marked for it next year.

Once it’s done, the township also will need to set aside money for its ongoing maintenance, Heasley said.

“We want to get that up and restored and looking nice for the community and veterans,” he said.

Musco said they want to have everything finished so the memorial can be rededicated on Memorial Day 2020, which will be on Monday, May 25.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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