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Dover Area plans veterans memorial at new high school

Army veteran John Herrold knows the value of recognition.

The 73-year-old lawyer who served in Vietnam recalled watching his fellow soldiers endure terrible conditions at war only to come home to a weak reception.

"They were not appreciated," he said. "There were no parades, there were no marches down Fifth Avenue or anything like that."

It wasn't until the 1980s that the mood in the country started to shift, Herrold estimated.

"People started to recognize that the guys that went to Vietnam did what their country asked them to do," he said.

That sense of duty is something Herrold and other veterans and alumni of Dover Area High School want to memorialize at the new high school, which is under construction now. 

Central Dauphin High School Veterans Memorial, in Central Dauphin School District, Dauphin County. 

The memorial was the inspiration for a veterans' memorial at Dover Area High School, expected to be completed with the new high school building in December 2020.

The inspiration: York County Register of Wills Brad Jacobs, who served more than six years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and was a year ahead of Herrold at Dover High, recently saw a "beautiful memorial" that caught his eye near the entrance of Central Dauphin High School.

Jacobs, the 74-year-old president of the Class of '62, wanted to bring something similar to his own alma mater.

A clipping from the Patriot-News, printed June 2, 1968, showing Brad Jacobs (right) in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. 

Jacobs is leading a committee to bring a veterans' memorial to Dover Area High School.

After pitching the idea to the school board in January, Jacobs got the OK in April to form a committee to plan the memorial. The memorial would be constructed near the entrance of the new high school building, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

More:Dover school board approves bids for $65 million high school project

The committee began meeting a few months ago, and the project was announced publicly on Oct. 23, Jacobs said.

Center of the community: "Not many schools that I know of have something like this," said Amanda Renfrew, a fourth-grade math teacher at North Salem Elementary School and an Army veteran.

For her, it's not about the recognition. She said she hopes the memorial simply opens up the community's eyes to how many among them have served.

Veteran Amanda Renfrew, a fourth-grade math teacher at North Salem Elementary School, is part of a committee that would like to bring a veteran's memorial to the new Dover Area High School. Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Renfrew noted her son, Tyler, will be in the first graduating class at the new building — and he's considering military service himself.

Margaret Mayberry — a school counselor at the district who is currently serving in the Air Force National Guard — said she thinks the school is the perfect place for a veterans memorial.

"The school is often the center of a community," she said, so the memorial will be a gathering place for everyone. 

An early rendering of a veterans' memorial planned for Dover Area High School. 

Dover alumnus Frank Dittenhafer, of Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects, in York City, helped design the project.

The Dover Eagle Foundation, the district's nonprofit organization, will accept donations for the project. Since it's still in the early planning stages, cost estimates are not yet in, but the project has already received a $5,000 contribution, Jacobs said.

More:Locals celebrate National Vietnam War Veterans Day

Future and past: To kick-start the effort, Jacobs contacted fellow alumnus and friend Frank Dittenhafer, of Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects in York City, to come up with the design.

A former Dover student and resident in the area since childhood, Dittenhafer also worked previously on other York County memorials, including the Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing & Peace Garden, for military personnel who served in the War on Terror.

Each memorial is different, Dittenhafer said, and the Dover memorial will be a great opportunity to look forward through a new high school while looking into the past at the same time.

An early rendering of a veterans' memorial planned for Dover Area High School. Dover alumnus Frank Dittenhafer, of Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects, in York City, helped design the project.