The Memorial Day Edition.
Ever since we moved into our house, we’ve attended the Memorial Day service at the Bethlehem Memorial Park. It’s sponsored by the United Veterans of Bethlehem, The Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council, and the City of Bethlehem.
The program features patriotic music from a three local school bands, the American Legion Band, speeches from local politicians, historic readings by local school children, a laying of the wreath by the Blue Star Mothers, and opening & closing prayers. With cooperative weather, the program includes a rifle salute, echo taps, and releasing doves.
Since the sun rose with a steady rain, the ceremony was moved indoors. The appropriate space is the Liberty High School Memorial Gymnasium. According to Wikipedia,
Liberty High School was built in 1918 and opened in 1922. At the ceremony in May 1923, Liberty High School was dedicated to “the progressive spirit of the citizens of Bethlehem.” At the opening of the school, Liberty was seen as “one of the greatest achievements of the City of Bethlehem,” and designed to not only “further the well-being of youth” but also to stand as a “War Memorial, commemorating the valor of Bethlehem men who went to the front, the sacrifice of the heroic dead and the manifold contributions and productions of the city toward bringing the war to swift and just conclusion.” Liberty High School was given its name to cement this War Memorial status.
This memorial site was mentioned in State Representative Steve Samuelson’s speech. He also mentioned the Revolutionary War site, the Civil War site, and a site in South Bethlehem to honor the men from the neighborhood who died in war.
Bethlehem is rich in history. There are memorial sites all around the city. My office is right next to God’s Acre and just a couple of blocks from Nisky Cemetery. There are stories behind each plaque, or park.
I took these pictures last December, when I learned that a new memorial is being planned. When my kids are at their music lessons in Moravian College, I’ll wander around the building (the Brethren House) and read the plaques and pictures. It’s crazy to think of who else walked those halls. Learning about history is under our noses, if we simply choose to notice it. Once we understand its meaning, it can’t be ignored. It must be honored.
I want to know more about the history in Bethlehem. All of it. Who were the people that our parks and buildings were named after? What did they do? What kind of lives did they live?
I’m ever so grateful for the elected officials who were present at today’s service. I’m also grateful for the veterans who keep putting this ceremony together, and for the people who gather at it.
It’s not enough to pay respects. To truly honor their sacrifice, we must stay active in politics; whether the person we voted for is in office or not.
If you’re getting frustrated with current politics, and can’t muster the energy to get involved, learn about local history. If you’re looking for ideas to learn more about Bethlehem’s history, give me a comment. If you want to share an idea, do it in the comments.
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