Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 6, 2005, pg. 2
As we remember our Veterans this coming week on Veteran’s Day, we are reminded about a special park in Albion’s park system dedicated as a memorial to those soldiers from Albion who gave their lives in service during World War II. It is the Gold Star Park, located at Five Points near the east city limits at the intersections of Jackson and N. Clark Sts., and E. Michigan Avenue.
During World War II, parents put small banners in their windows containing a blue star(s) to signify how many of their sons were serving our country. If a son was killed in action, the star was changed to gold, and the parents became a “Gold Star” mother/father.
After the War had ended, Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Nora Bechstein spearheaded a movement to have a monument erected in Albion as a memorial to those who gave their lives during World War II. The location chosen was at Five Points, just east of the old East Ward School site. Their son, Corporal Herman Bechstein was one of Albion’s World War II casualties. He had graduated from Albion High School in 1938.
A special monument was erected with a large “gold” star on the top within a wreath, with the dates “1941-1945” on each side below. The center text states: “Gold Star Memorial Park, Dedicated to Those from Albion Who Gave Their Lives in World War II.” Thirty-four names of Albion’s War dead were engraved into the large stone, which was paid for by the City of Albion. The adjoining shrubbery, flowers, and decorations were paid for by the local Gold Star Parents, the VFW, the American Legion, and others. The Park and monument was dedicated on May 31, 1948. Later, the names of those who were killed in the Korean War were added to the monument.
As time progressed, the monument began to show normal signs of weathering, and the names on the monument became less prominent. In 2000, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3672 with the help of Albion City Engineer Leroy Schmidt, updated the monument by placing bronze plaque overlays containing the names on the monument. This greatly improved their visibility. In addition, lighting and a flagpole were later added along with an American flag. If you drive into Albion at night, you’ll see this monument lit up, which provides a beautiful welcome to our town and a fitting memorial to our War dead.
Recently, the VFW paid for having individual memorial bricks engraved with the names found in Gold Star Park, and placing them on the Veterans Memorial Stage at Riverside Cemetery. The bricks were arranged in a square pattern that follows the front and side edge of the stage platform. If you haven’t been to the Memorial Stage recently, many more named bricks have just been added to the platform. The VFW also paid for the paving of the driveway to access the site which occurred on October 20-21.
If you would like to honor a veteran in your family by purchasing a memorial brick, contact our local American Legion which is now in charge of maintaining the Stage, for information on how to order one. The Legion just added lighting near the large flagpole located just to the north. If you look on pages 22 through 27 of the 1948-49 Albion City Directory, there is an “Honor Roll” which lists over 1,500 names of persons from Albion who served in World War II! That was quite a large number of our population. Is the name of your family’s World War II soldier on a brick at the Memorial Stage in Riverside Cemetery?
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Gold Star Park at Five Points. In honor of Veteran’s Day and in their memory, we present the names found on the bronze plaques at Gold Star Park. World War II: Richard M. Alexander; Lynford A. Austin; Herman L. Bechstein; George H. Bennett; G. Harvey Biggs; Joseph D. Brabant; Vernon R. Brock; Everett L. Brown; James Casey; George C. Crowder; George E. Dean, Jr.; Charles D. DeForest; James C. DeMaggio; Russell Elushik; Raymond Everett; Johnnie Fields; Robert A. Gill; Shirley C. Griffith; Justin Hamilton; Jay M. Huff; George Kimler; Melvin L. King; Richard C. Letts; Ralph E. Lindemann; Russell Marshall; Donald R. Moody; Leston L. Muzzy; Nicholas Pavluchik; Albert Pollman; B. Jack Rinne; Arthur W. Shenman; John R. Waite; Edward Wells, Jr.; and Joseph K. Williamson.
Korean War: Lawrence Emigholz, Jr.; William Williams; Clavis C. Mather.
Gold Star Park at Riverside Cemetery
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic