The latest phase of the Foster Joseph Sayers Memorial was completed earlier this week with help from Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology students and sponsors.
On Friday night, those upgrades were unveiled in time for the Memorial Day ceremony in honor of local veterans and military members who died, and in memory of Sayers, a Howard native and the only person from Centre County to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
About 1,200 square feet of brick was laid out in the shape of the keystone symbol by 19 CPI students in instructor Joe Luther’s landscape and horticulture class. They also created other hardscape accents for the memorial.
Luther said his class annually participates in the Heroscape Program, an initiative through New Jersey-based pavement company EP Henry that provides hardscapes and patio pavement to eligible wounded soldiers or other projects.
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Last year, the class built a patio area for retired Army Staff Sgt. Vince Reynolds, of Lemont.
This year’s project took about three and a half weeks to complete.
“We battled some rain and weather, but it was all worth it for these guys to be a part of something that really gives them a sense of community,” Luther said. “It’s one of the largest class projects we’ve ever constructed, and the best thing about it is not only teaching the trade, but giving back to Centre County with a project of this magnitude.”
The Betsy Ross Flag of May 1776 mural accompanying the memorial was also repainted last week by two Central Mountain High School students for their senior project.
The ceremony featured a series of speakers, including keynote speaker Foster Joseph Sayers Jr., a Vietnam veteran and the son of the memorial’s namesake. He also helped unveil a brick pathway, which included the engraved names of veterans.
Larry Butler, of Beech Creek, who helped spearhead the idea and organization of Sayers Memorial, said those bricks will help fund future construction.
Phase 3, he said, will include a brick walkway and five flagpoles to represent the five branches of the United States military.
The original budget for the project, which started in 2012, was about $15,000. The statue of Sayers alone cost about $12,000, Butler said.
“It’s a lot of money, but it’s all worth it,” he said.