Fullerton American Legion rededicates WWI memorial
A special gathering took place Nov. 11 just before the traditional Veterans Day program hosted by Fullerton American Legion Post 367.
Earlier that morning, the Post held a rededication ceremony of the World War I memorial, located at the corner of Fullerton Avenue and Park Street in Whitehall. In attendance were community residents, Post 367 honor guard members and Whitehall Mayor Michael P. Harakal Jr.
Post Commander John Treiber expressed appreciation for the efforts of the mayor and Whitehall Township Public Works Department for their work in refurbishing the memorial site.
Treiber applauded Harakal as a distinguished mayor and thanked him for his efforts to improve the Whitehall community. He thanked all those in attendance for their support of veterans.
Harakal’s remarks included a review of the events that led up to World War I. He noted 2020 is the 75th anniversary of World War II and 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Shield.
World War I was the first global war originating in Europe. It began July 28, 1914, with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The United States entered the war April 6, 1917. It ended Nov. 11, 1918. It was called “the war to end all wars.”
Harakal thanked all Whitehall veterans for the sacrifices they made to preserve freedom. He also thanked the public works department, which labored to renovate the memorial to honor our ancestors who went to war to keep us safe.
Doug Wiltraut, a local artist, was recognized by Harakal for advocating for the memorial and seeing the beauty of the mulberry tree that has been behind the monument for decades. A mulberry tree is seen by some as a sign of nature, faith and growth. Wiltraut took it upon himself to help prune the tree.
Harakal closed by sharing that his grandfather, Charles Crothers, was sent to Europe in World War I and was gassed by the enemy in France. Thankfully, he survived. He and his wife moved to Fullerton during the Great Depression and lived long lives with their family in Whitehall.
He concluded that many veterans, after their service, become our nation’s leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, workers and active volunteers all over the country.
“This memorial will live another 100 years, next to the beautiful weeping mulberry tree behind us,” Harakal said. “Let us hope we will not have to dedicate another memorial for dead soldiers in the next 100 years.”