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Legion mural a testament to service

Petersburg Post 150 to mark centennial with weekend event

PETERSBURG — An overheard conversation among a group of military women has led to the realization of a dream for the Petersburg American Legion Post 150.

A 20-foot, 10-panel mural, with each panel representing the major wars the United States has fought since the Revolution, is set to be dedicated at a ceremony marking the post’s centennial, beginning at noon Saturday.

Shelly Ormsby, post treasurer, said the legion has wanted to have a mural painted for some time.

“I asked around, but we couldn’t make it happen,” she said.

Enter Robert Morss, a senior education major at Penn State’s University Park campus.

In November, Morss was working in the Office of Veterans Programs on campus, and during a gathering of female veterans, he overheard Ormsby talk about trying to get a mural painted.

“I could hear what they were saying and at one point I heard someone mention that she was trying to get a mural painted but that nobody was able to do it,” Morss said.

Morss said he went back to doing his homework and when the meeting was over, he approached Ormsby.

“I said, ‘My name is Robert Morss and I think I can get that done for you,'” he said. “We have been working on it since then.”

For Morss, 27, of Reno, Nevada, working on the mural is personal. A four-year veteran of the United States Army, Morss said it is a way for him to honor those who have come before him, while setting an example for those who will follow.

Morss said the mural begins with a scene of soldiers standing around a campfire at Valley Forge and ends with the present-day conflict in Afghanistan.

“Between those panels is an evolution of warfare with different scenes that capture the heroic and patriotic moments of our nation’s history,” he said.

Enlisting the help of some of his Penn State peers, Morss said the process of bringing the mural to life has been a humbling experience.

“It has been a beautiful thing to sketch it out and watch it come to life as people have joined in,” he said. “I am grateful for the support I have been getting throughout this journey.”

Morss said the panels not only show America’s battles, but also historical milestones in military evolution.

“It shows an African American soldier fighting alongside white soldiers after the Military Integration Act, and the first female combatant, a pilot in the Gulf War.

Morss said the mural will stand as a testament to everyone who has served, and those who will one day serve.

“It’s about honoring those who have come before us,” he said. “It is also about the next generation that is coming up. We have left plenty of room on the wall for more panels to be inserted. America is not done fighting wars to protect its people and its lands, and the next generation is going to have to do that. I want this mural to inspire them and challenge them.”

Mirror Staff Writer Rick Boston is at 946-7535.

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