Log In

Reset Password

Veterans honored at memorial’s new NMIH home

The annual Veterans Steelworkers Memorial ceremony Nov. 11, well attended despite worsening weather, was held at its new home for the first time since 1989 at the entrance of the National Museum of Industrial History.

Service members, veterans, politicians and supporters spoke in reverence of generations of men and women who stepped forward to sacrifice for the national benefit.

The keynote speaker was Master Sgt. Stephan C. Potsko, an Army reservist and Lehigh University ROTC cadre member.

“First and foremost, I want to begin today by recognizing all those among us who’ve been part of this great brotherhood and sisterhood we call the U.S. military. Your service and sacrifice have kept our country free. Times change and the world changes … it feels like part of our own history is fading around us, so we look to those elements that are persistent; things like this veterans memorial.

“In just about a week it’ll be a full 25 years since the furnaces here at the mill went cold for good. The ‘Last Cast,’ as it is known, signaled the end of an era, but not the end of the memories of those who lived it. Even though some pictures of Bethlehem Steel like Martin Tower are gone, the memory and stories of the Steel remain, preserved and maintained by organizations like the National Museum of Industrial History. In a real and tangible way the stories of our veterans can be preserved by rededicating this memorial and rededicating our efforts to remember and honor those who served.”

Potsko continued, “We owe it to ourselves and our posterity to never forget the sacrifices of those who went before us. I was married not far from here, and shortly after exchanging our vows I got mobilized to war. Needless to say, my wife was worried about my safety. Several older members of our church comforted her, explaining, while they were worried for their husbands in 1944 when they were headed to Europe and the Pacific Rim, they eventually returned safe, and I would be no different.”

He described the last century of the nation’s wars being intertwined with the workers and production of the Bethlehem Steel Corp., concluding, “We must not allow the memory of these service members to slip out of our nation’s consciousness. We must never forget their actions, not just today, but every day, left a path for future generations to follow. Make it an honorable and well-traveled one. ”

Press photos by Nate Jastrzemski Emcee and National Museum and Industrial History Board Member Don Trexler welcomes an audience of about a hundred veterans, family members and supporters to the new home of the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial, at the museum's entrance Nov. 11.
Lehigh University ROTC members, Bethlehem Police mounted unit officers and members of the Nam Knights gather under misty skies.
Local resident Richard G. Shimmel was a radar operator in Hawaii in December 1944. He was the fifth person to learn of the approaching Japanese aircraft, but had no time for fear. He says, “We had one thing on our mind: To do our job.”
Master Sgt. Lymman Langijota, who arrived in Bethlehem in June from an Airborne assignment in Germany, is now the senior enlisted advisor for the Lehigh University ROTC. Langijota welcomes Richard Shimmel and thanks him for his service dodging Japanese bombs across the Pacific, including his native Marshall Islands,
State Rep. Mike Schlossberg presents Richard Shimmel with a certificate of thanks, while joking about the numerous times they've already met at similar events.
Keynote speaker Master Sgt. Stephan Potsko talks about the many ways the Steel and men of Bethlehem are intertwined in a century of wars.
Master Sgt. Stephan Potsko receives a plaque from Lester Close, a former Green Beret.
Officers, enlisted men and cadets of the Lehigh University Reserve Officer Training Corps, nicknamed “The Steel Battalion,” provide the colors for the ceremony. More Veterans Day coverage on A14.