DUPONT - The memories never fade, unfortunately the paint does.
The 180-foot patriotic mural on the side of the Dupont Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4909, painted by local artist and post member Joseph Borini after the attacks on Sept. 11, is fading fast.
The massive wood-lined wall faces west and gets pelted with the sun’s rays almost daily and some colors in the mural, especially the reds, have dulled, said Robert Lopata, president of the Home Association.
Now the VFW Post and its Home Association are undertaking a major fundraising project to have the mural restored.
“It says it all right there, ‘Two days that will live in infamy: Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001,’” Lopata said.
Also pictured in the mural are the Pentagon, the New York City skyline with the World Trade Center, firefighters on the rubble of the Twin Towers, President George W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guilani, “Let’s roll” the last audible words on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 said by a passenger before they rushed the terrorists and the plane crashed in Shanksville, the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and patriotic scenes from across the U.S., including Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Liberty Bell.
“It also shows the close bond and dedication of our armed forces, firefighters, police and public officials,” Lopata said.
Post Commander Gary Carwardine said the mural symbolizes patriotism.
“It’s 9-11, World War II, Flight 93 and Pearl Harbor,” he said.
Noted muralist Dwight Kirkland of Black Leaf Studios who painted Pittston’s Heritage Mural, which includes scenes from Pittston’s past: coal mining, garment business and railroads, has been hired to restore the mural.
The cost to repair the wall and restore the mural is close to $15,000. Kirkland will be paid $10,386 and the rest is needed to repair the wood wall and some marble tiles in front of the building.
Kirkland is set to start the week of May 5 and will be complete by May 19. With two clear coats set to finish it off, the mural will last another 20 years.
One of the VFW’s officers, John Brogna of Pittston suggested Kirkland.
“He was still doing work in Pittston and he came up and looked at it. Came back and gave us a bid,” Lopata said.
Lopata said when talks began to refurbish the mural, Borini was still alive.
“We were talking about this project last year,” We had (Borini) up here last Spring looking at it. He said he wasn’t capable of doing the refurbishment by himself, but agreed to do it with some help. He was ready to do it and two weeks later he was gone.”
Borini died on Oct. 30, 2012, at the age of 82.
He was considered Pittston’s unofficial resident artist and mural painter and best known for his large-scale patriotic and Pittston-history themed murals.
Two of his murals fill the walls of Savo’s Pizza and there’s a 124-foot mural in Gerrity’s supermarket in West Pittston.
Lopata and Borini both worked at Tobyhanna Army Depot and Borini was a member of his post.
The Dupont mural is seen by thousands of people every day, Lopata said.
“It’s really a landmark in Greater Pittston,” he said.
The post itself is a landmark. Inside the post is a members-only bar and a restaurant that’s open to the public. Numerous meeting rooms and banquet halls are used almost daily, and several Borini murals are situated throughout the building. Over 15 community organizations use the building free of charge, including the Lions Club and the Red Cross for blood drives.
All the businesses in town were sent a letter asking for help. “Please help to keep the memory of the events of this date and the brave men and women who gave their lives live on forever,” the letter said.
“I’ve lived in Dupont all my life, except for three tours in Vietnam,” Lopata said. “This is my home.”
Membership of the VFW is dwindling, he said.
“We used to have well over 800 members but we have over 300 now,” he said. “The World War II and the Korean War guys are passing away.”
Joe O’Hara, post adjutant, has been a member of the post since 1972.
“It’s our lasting legacy,” he said. “That’s why we want to fix it.”
How to help
Drop off or mail a donation of any amount to Restore Our Mural Fund, c/o Dupont VFW Post #4909, 401-403 Main St., Dupont, Pa., 18641.