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Penn State Dedicates Beaver Stadium Seat In Honor Of POW/MIA Soldiers

Penn State hosted a ceremony Wednesday morning to dedicate a seat in Beaver Stadium in honor of all prisoners of war and service members missing in action.

The Chair of Honor, located in Section SLU, will remain empty for the entire season after an honorary plaque was revealed on top of it. The seat will be officially unveiled during halftime of Penn State’s first home football game of the season against Ball State on Saturday, September 11.

Penn State’s senior director of Veterans Affairs and Services, Eugene McFeely, offered opening remarks at the start of the ceremony Wednesday morning.

“Our military tradition at Penn State runs deep, and our installation and dedication of this POW/MIA chair of honor today continues that long line of military tradition,” McFeely said. “This Chair of Honor is meant to represent those service members who are unable to fill them because of their sacrifices. This chair we dedicate today symbolizes that, as well as the act of symbolizing Penn State’s commitment not only to our service members and veterans, but to their families, too.”

President Eric Barron attended the event and said the chair symbolizes much more than remembrance.

“By remembering our missing service members, it will reinforce our commitment to bringing everyone home,” Barron said.

The idea for the seat came about in 2014 from Debra Burger, whose brother, Lewis P. Smith II, a Penn State alum, was deemed missing during the Vietnam War. She had hoped for it to be installed in time for the 2015 football season, but the process stalled until McFeely arrived at Penn State to help complete the project.

President Barron also credited former UPUA President Zach McKay, who “began a crusade with an eye towards having the seat installed for the 2020 football season.” The seat was finally installed in March 2021 since Beaver Stadium didn’t have fans during the 2020 season.

“We will never forget these brave individuals, and we cannot fully celebrate until they are brought home,” President Barron said. “This seat will remain empty until all of the missing have returned home. In a packed stadium of 107,000 strong, this is a signal that our family is not yet whole.”

Penn State will host its annual 24-hour POW/MIA vigil at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 17 on Old Main Lawn. The vigil is free and open to the public.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected]

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