The Veterans’ Memorial Amphitheater at Pittsburg State University got a much-deserved renovation at the end of 2010, receiving brand-new granite slabs to replace the original, dilapidated steel panels.

The Veterans’ Memorial Amphitheater at Pittsburg State University got a much-deserved renovation at the end of 2010, receiving brand-new granite slabs to replace the original, dilapidated steel panels.

Each year 15 to 20 of the most badly-damaged panels were removed and repainted. But the efforts proved to be futile. Originally designed to be displayed indoors or for brief periods outside in good weather, the names of the fallen soldiers were merely screen-printed onto the painted steel.

“They were never meant to be outside 24/7,” said Vice President for University Advancement Brad Hodson, who oversees the memorial. “The sun just eats the paint away.”

Eventually, veterans and their families began to voice their concern about the state of the memorial. So Hodson began raising money to replace the panels once and for all.

His efforts paid off, and private donors ponied up $250,000 to pay for the replacement project.

“As the person who’s had to have some very uncomfortable conversations with vets and their families, it’s great that we can finally put the panels in place,” Hodson said. “I hope it will enhance the faith that they have in the university to sustain their memory in a very meaningful way. Those names are going to be there for us to see forever.”

The memorial is an exact replica of the original monument in Washington, D.C. One of only three such reproductions, it was part of a half-scale traveling exhibit donated by artist John Devitt.

The polished granite panels were quarried, cut and polished in India before being shipped to Kansas, said SI Monuments regional manager Mike Forbes.