Memorial Day featured multiple remembrances May 29 that paid tribute to soldiers who gave their lives so America can stay free.
The day began with Eagle Scouts Simon Sealy and Tater Kruzel, who led the effort behind the Veterans’ Memorial monument dedication at Levine Park.
The monument read “In honor of all veterans’ past, present and future who have served in our nations’ armed forces.”
Jim Knesick donated granite for the monument after scouts approached him.
Eagle Scout Coordinator Daniel Cano, former scoutmaster for Troop 548, said the project is “very cool.”
“When they first met with Mayor [Mark] Stolarski he gave them a couple of options, and they chose the veterans’ memorial,” he said. “They came up with the design, the Pentagon, and got with Mr. Knesick and got it built,” he said.
The memorial was placed at Levine Park so future scouts can add to the display.
Mayor Janice Whitehead delivered a proclamation from the City of Sealy.
“The scouts are achieving something that very few scouts can do,” she said.
She called the memorial one of the finest Eagle Scout projects she has ever seen.
“It is truly an honor to our veterans to have such a memorial presented by these two young men,” she said.
Wedged between the ceremonies was an unveiling at the Sealy Cemetery that gave Bertha Steck, who lost her son Dennis in World War II, a Gold Star on her cemetery plot.
Gold Star Moms are women who lost a child in a war.
Master Sergeant Dennis Steck served in World War II and died in combat September 13, 1943, in North Africa.
“We are very proud to be able to do this today,” nephew Tom Rhoades said.
Ruth Steck said Rhoades made sure that Bertha Steck got the Gold Star.
“She was my husband’s grandmother,” she said, referencing the late Billy Steck. “I never knew Dennis, but he always said he would never be captured alive during the war.”
Chrissy Steck-Whitesides said Bertha Steck was her great-grandmother and knew her when she was little.
The group said the day was about Dennis and Bertha Steck.
“This is their day,” Tom Rhodes said.
The flag ceremony and Memorial Day program at American Legion Post 442 drew a capacity crowd looking to pay tribute to soldiers.
Post Commander Paul Dronka said he is honored to lead the program.
“This is what it’s all about is honoring those who passed and paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “Those who made it through and passed, we want to honor them as well. They are the ones who gave us freedom and the things we enjoy today.”
The program moved inside after a wreath laying ceremony, and Dronka led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the singing of the National Anthem by youngster Valerie Hahn.
The guest speaker was Herbert Kollatschny whose experience in journalism includes The Sealy News and Bellville Times. He spoke about all his adventures during his career in sports and news features, but said it was the story he didn’t get to finish on Edwin Narcinkiewiecz that made the biggest impression on him.
“He wanted to be with his buddies at the little joint,” he said. “They got together every evening.”
Narcinkiewiecz was a prisoner of war who lived in a concentration camp.
“He could have brought so much more of that out,” Kollatschny said. “That’s the real regret that I have. There are so many people, and their stories are gone. I wish I could have started sooner.”
The candlelighting ceremony, led by Lenora Dronka, paid tribute to 15 American Legion members who passed away over the past year, including Marie Brune, Patsy Ashorn, Orville Benton, Albert White Sr., Arlin Krejcki, Lloyd Corbett, Henry Brune, Irvin Koeppen, Frank Sayle, Jesse Hearn, Charles Hinze Jr., Lawrence Blazek, Bobby Norris, Lawrence Roach and Morris Wiechmann.