This is the second of four releases presented by the Ellwood City Historical Society concerning the “We Can Do It!”, exhibit to be held at the History Center, 310 Fifth Street, Ellwood City.
SOME GAVE ALL
It was a recognition you didn’t want but it was a solemn honor you received with great dignity. Dread accompanied your initiation, but once you were a member, nothing could dissuade you from the reverent pride in being a part of this special group. The usual notification occurred by a letter or telegram from the War Department that someone you cherished was KIA (Killed-In-Action) making you a Gold Star family. The Blue Star you proudly displayed showing that a loved one was in the military would now become a Gold Star signifying the loss of that person in service to the United States. During World War Two, 126 new families made the transition from blue to gold in the Ellwood City Area. Although the first official notification did not occur until March of 1943 when the family of Private Anthony Lobozzo was informed that he was KIA on January 30, 1943 and became the “first known local death in World War 2,” this small industrial town averaged nearly 3 sacrifices per month for the entirety of the war.
These men were former athletic stars on the local high school and college teams, or mill workers, mechanics, and delivery men. They were the sons and brothers of prominent citizens and the sons and brothers of average blue-collar families. They were officers. They were enlisted. They died on the battlefield, in enemy prison camps, or in state-side military accidents. But they were all referred to as “heroes” for their willingness to give the supreme sacrifice for their country.
It is often said that when a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Airman leaves for a war, they are writing a blank check to their country that essentially puts everything they have on the line. All of their fortune, all of their tomorrows, everything they hope ever to become is at risk. And often we forget that this includes the hopes, aspirations, and dreams of their families too.
One hundred and twenty-six area men, in the spring of their lifetime, had that check cashed in defense of American freedom and ideals during World War 2. They gave everything they ever hoped for to their country and left their Gold Star families with the solemn pride that they had, in the eloquent words of President Abraham Lincoln, “laid so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom.”
You can learn the names of these brave souls and immerse yourself in this historical era that produced such heroes in Ellwood City by visiting the Ellwood City Historical Society’s presentation of the Senator John Heinz History Center’s traveling World War II display at the Ellwood City History Center, 310 5th Street, from December 2, 2017 to January 23, 2018. The exhibit, sponsored by Erie Insurance, the Eberly Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, may be viewed throughout this period on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from noon to 4:00 p.m., Fridays noon to 6:00, and Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Next week: Foundries of Freedom.
View the first publication here.