Macungie Veterans Memorial
Macungie Veterans Memorial
On September 13, 1919, the Borough of Macungie officially welcomed home its "Soldier Sons" from armed service during World War I with a day-long celebration that included lavish town decorations and a grand parade. As a part of this celebration, town leaders promised its returning soldiers that the community's "citizens and friends will endeavor to do some homage to those who went forth and served their country honorably in the time of its need." A week later, the Allentown Morning Call reported that "the response for the expense of last Saturday's reception of welcome to the soldiers was so liberal that there is a nice balance left over. After the final settlement has been made, this remainder is to be used for a good purpose, possibly a lasting memorial to the soldiers." With these words, a dream was born to provide a place for public gatherings within the borough as this lasting memorial. But the dream of a living memorial remained dormant for another two decades, and it would take a second world conflict before the dream could be realized. Then, on September 1, 1944, an agreement of sale was signed by Minnie M. Moyer, who owned the old John Adam Singmaster farm in the center of town, and Robert Strausser, of the Borough Honor Roll Committee, to purchase her twenty-one-acre farm for the interest-free sum of $5,000. A down payment of $100 was made, and on November 27, 1944, the Macungie Memorial Park Association was officially incorporated as "a memorial to those who served in the armed forces of the United States in World War I and World War II." The first officers of the association, elected on September 29, 1944, were William Shoemaker, president; Earl Schoch, vice president; Fred Oberholzer, secretary; LeRoy Greiss, treasurer; and Henry Acker, Robert Strausser, and Sylvester Warmkessel as trustees. In a letter to the community, the new association wrote, "Macungie, in line with many other communities, is desirous of honoring the men and women serving in the armed forces of our country during this unprecedented crisis. With this thought in mind, we have procured a tract of land upon which a suitable memorial is to be erected. The tract is to be known as Macungie Memorial Park." By 1948, maintenance manager George Readler had placed half of the land in lawn, trees and shrubbery were planted, swings, see-saws, slides, benches, and a flagpole were installed, and a basement auditorium was under construction. Much of the money needed to operate the park was raised through individual contributions and community events such as Skillo, band concerts, and picnics, and the new park soon became a popular place for community gatherings. In 1948, the park bandshell was obtained as a gift of the Lehigh-Portland Cement Company after a borough resident, Charles Conrad, saw the idle bandshell at Fogelsville Community Park. The structure was disassembled, moved to Macungie, and re-assembled in time for dedication ceremonies during Memorial Day festivities on May 30, 1949. In 1950, the Park Association decided that a more tangible shrine was needed to honor "those who gave their lives for their country and their community." A Citizens' War Memorial Committee was formed, and in 1951, the decision was made to purchase a stately granite monument, at a cost of $3,200, from the Wenz Company of Allentown. The new monument, made of Smith-Barre Granite from the E. L. Smith Quarry of Barre, Vermont, measured eleven feet high, with an eight inch base, and featured a hand-cut eagle at its top. Inscribed on the monument are the words "In grateful tribute to the men and women of this community who served the cause of freedom in the armed forces of our country." The new memorial was dedicated at ceremonies held on Friday, May 30, 1952. Throughout the five decades since the Macungie Veterans Memorial was dedicated, services have been held each Memorial Day in memory of those veterans who paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country. During the last years of the 20th century, however, the memorial itself had begun to show signs of age and an extensive restoration project was undertaken by the Park Association. Work to clean and refurbish the memorial, and replacement of the deteriorated granite benches, was completed by Wenz Memorial, with the help of funding obtained through the County of Lehigh. The flag pole was replaced with the help of Macungie Post PA75-Veterans of the Vietnam War, and new landscaping was provided by Plantique. On a rainy Saturday morning, May 26, 2001, ceremonies were held to rededicate Macungie's Veterans Memorial to all veterans of the Macungie community who have "Served The Cause Of Freedom In The Armed Forces Of Our Country."
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