New historical association compiles military books
Published 10:55 am Friday, August 25, 2017
By MERLE MONAHAN/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
A new exhibit will be featured in the art gallery at the Wakefield Foundation’s Annual Homecoming this year, and a group of historians from the community is happy to take the credit.
On display will be two books containing photographs and data on every military veteran that could be found from the Wakefield community, and who served in any capacity as far back as the Civil War. Compiling this information — from locating the veteran to recording his military service — was all done by members of the newly formed Wakefield Historical Association.
“It was an awesome task,” said Wakefield Historical Association member Gayle Lanier, “but oh so interesting. I learned things about veterans that I had never heard before.”
Lanier said the idea to preserve as much information on these brave men and women as possible was the very first project the WHA attempted after it was organized. “Someone made a motion to find each veteran in the Wakefield community and preserve information about their service. The vote was 100 percent in favor.”
“We started in January,” she went on, “and we have many of them. However, we’d like to find all of them, if possible.”
Lanier noted that if anyone knows of a veteran who has not been contacted, they should contact her at 757-899-6451.
“We’re looking for veterans who have lived in the Wakefield community, attended a Wakefield school or are buried in a Wakefield community cemetery,” she added.
At a meeting recently with WHA members, Lanier, her husband Marvin, Ralph Seeley and Thomas Huber, Lanier explained that Seeley and Huber are compiling the books.
Seeley said he has already documented stories on 21 veterans with 125 pictures in his book.
“We secured the information by talking to family and friends of the men and women, and sometimes the veterans themselves,” he said.
His book will be for sale at the exhibit and will make “a wonderful Christmas gift,” he added.
Huber’s book, which contains individual pictures of mostly WWI and WWII veterans, as well as some before and after these wars with data on each veteran’s service record, will be retained by the WHA and will be available for reference to historians and students, as well as families and friends.
“Our organization feels that our servicemen and women deserve as much recognition as we can give them,” Lanier said.
And if this information is not recorded, so often it is forgotten.
“For instance, we had a young WWII Air Force veteran here who was a German POW. Fortunately, he survived to return this area. Then there was a young British servicewoman who met and married a U.S. Army soldier when he was stationed in England. Both survived the war to return to this area.
“But I’ll bet there aren’t many people here who even remember these veterans,” she said.
Lanier said the WHA has worked overtime to get their books along with loaned military artifacts ready to display at the homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 7.
“We invite everyone to stop by and see it. It’ll take you back a few years.”