Sewickley, Coraopolis VFW to unveil new veterans memorial

Sunday, March 22, 2020 | 11:01 PM

The bronze doughboy statue has stood outside the Keith-Holmes Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 402 building in Coraopolis since the mid-1970s.

This spring, it will receive refinishing work and become part of a new Veterans War Memorial Park that honors veterans of all six service branches who served in every conflict from the Great War to the war on terror. Members of Post 402 ‒ which as of July includes former members of Sewickley Post 5756 that closed ‒ plan to dedicate the new monument on Memorial Day.

“This project is an undertaking that we felt was necessary because of the condition of the old memorial deteriorating, and we thought we owed it to the veterans to reconstruct one,” said Gary Farole, a Sewickley resident and a former member of Post 5756.

According to John Radcliff, quartermaster of Coraopolis Post 402, members have wanted to repair the aging doughboy monument for years. Older members of the post, including those who served in World War II and Korea, were particularly vocal about wanting the monument repaired.

The post got estimates from contractors to repair the current monument, which stood at Coraopolis High School starting in the 1920s before moving to its current location at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Mulberry Street in 1973.

Radcliff said it would have cost the VFW about $9,000 every three to four years to maintain the current monument. He said the post is looking at a cost of about $70,000 for the new park, and they’re hoping donations could help offset this amount.

“We’ve already OK’d it, and the project has started, and we have different periods on which we have to get deposits made,” said Farole.

When it’s all said and done, the new memorial will include eight pedestals bearing plaques that honor those who served in each major overseas conflict since World War I. The area will also contain memorial benches and bricks, bearing the names of individuals and local organizations that wish to donate. Picture This on Granite, a company with offices in Canada and Vermont, is doing design work for the park.

Donors have the opportunity to purchase four-by-eight, eight-by-eight or 12-by-12-inch memorial bricks, according to information provided by the Coraopolis VFW post.

“It’s open not only to veterans to purchase, but to family members and businesses,” Farole said.

One of the major goals of Post 402 has been to make the new memorial park interactive and accessible. Members of the post are seeking to get as many bricks engraved as possible, before the area is formally dedicated on Memorial Day.

Post 402, which has been a part of the community since 1922, has handled planning and fundraising for the annual Coraopolis Memorial Day parade “for a very long time and as far as anyone alive can remember,” Radcliff said.

“I think it’ll feel great, and not only will it feel like an accomplishment, it’s going to help with the beautification of the community,” he said about the new memorial.

Information on purchasing bricks can be found here.