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Tribute to prisoners of war and missing veterans takes shape at Grange Park | Centre County Gazette

Tribute to prisoners of war and missing veterans takes shape at Grange Park | Centre County Gazette
Tribute to prisoners of war and missing veterans takes shape at Grange Park | Centre County Gazette

CENTRE HALL – The People’s Choice Festival is held here, and while visiting Centre County Grange Encampment Park, guests may notice a new monument taking shape on the fairgrounds.

A local family is working to build a memorial to honor Centre County veterans, including those missing in action and prisoners of war.

The POW/MIA and Tribute Yard, which will be located near Gate 4 at the Grange Fairgrounds, is nearing completion.

Deb Burger, a Bellefonte resident, and her siblings have been raising money for the project for the past year.

“This project has been a labor of love for my siblings and me,” Burger wrote to the Centre County Gazette. “The military has always played an important role in our family. My father served in both World War II and Korea, so honoring veterans was a priority for us after Lewis went missing.”

Burger’s older brother, Major Lewis P. Smith II of Bellefonte, was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and graduated from Penn State University in 1964. He went missing in action in 1968 while serving in the Vietnam War.

“Providing the public with as much information as possible about missing soldiers is critical not only for their families, but also to show those who are serving now or will serve in the future that we will not turn our backs on them if they go missing overseas,” Burger said.

Since the monument is almost finished, an inauguration ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 27th at 2 p.m.