Group restoring historic sundial honoring veterans at Portland high school

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Amid a dusty and dirty remodeling project at Grant High School lies a historic piece of patriotism: a brass sundial in memory of past students who were killed in World War II.

The six-year war ended in 1945, and in the time since the dial has been damaged and vandalized. Now, a group of veterans want to bring it back similar to its original state.

"We're going to restore it and make it a part of the future of Grant High School," said Daniel Thompson.

Thompson is among nearly a dozen subcontractors, who are all also military veterans, that are currently working on the Grant High renovation. They want the sundial to stay on campus, so they've gotten a group together to voluntarily restore it ahead of the school's reopening next summer.

"As a veteran, all the veterans feel like remembering the wars that were fought and the wars we're still fighting - it's important that everybody, every student, does not forget that," Thompson said.

The group says the plan is to maintain the sundial's age and color, while bringing back its original look before it was vandalized. Its estimated near-original state can be partially seen in a 1958 yearbook photo discovered in the Portland Public Schools archive.

"I think it's important to remember those that have gone before us and contributed to the society that Grant is a part of," said Bob Stayton, a veteran and Grant High graduate supporting the sundial's restoration.

Grant has a history of acknowledging those who served. It's named after Ulysses S. Grant, a Commanding General of the Union Army in the American Civil War.

Other veterans who attended the high school said the sundial is symbolic of sacrifice - allowing students of the future to see something visual in order to help them remember the past.

"These 101 folks that we're recognizing and remembering already walked that walk," said Grant graduate Eugene Melvin, as he looked at the sundial's late spot in front of the school's foyer. "They're fellow Grantonians. All same school spirit."

The school district says it's likely the sundial will be moved to another spot on the school's campus after the renovation - but that future spot has yet to be determined.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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