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WWII Memorial Dedication (1944)
  • Transcribed to digital format by M. Kusmierz (July 2003)
  • Note: This WWII memorial made of wood was later replaced by a granite memorial dedicated to all military veterans of Bay County who died during war service. The memorial sits in front of the county building at Center Madison avenues in Bay City. (see the "Service Memorial" page for a list of their names.)

    Bay City Times – November 13, 1944.

    Memorial to Dead of World War II Dedicated Sunday.

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    Tribute Paid by Citizenry.
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    Names of 106 Servicemen on “Gold Star” List.

    A floral be-decked memorial tangibly expressing a community’s deep appreciation for heroic action of its war dead became Bay county’s own in Sunday afternoon dedicatory ceremonies.

    Solemnity — and high pride — marked the ritual in Battery Park where the “gold star” board, bearing 106 names has been erected by the Lions’ Club and the city commission as tribute to those young men who left their homes and careers to give that bitter last measure of devotion that America and her creed may not perish from the earth.

    Families Honored Guests.

    The posthumous recognition brought sad, but brave smiles — and some tears — to the heroes’ families who were honored guests. The memorial, an 11 by 7 foot structure, indirectly lighted, was accepted for the community, which was represented by several hundred attendants, by Lt-Col, A. H. Gansser, veteran of the Spanish-America War and World War I.

    The Rev. Leon E. Willoughby, pastor of Salem Evangelical church, who gave the dedicatory address, called it “a holy hour in the life of this community.”

    He recalled that more than 1,900 years ago “One who gave his life because of His love for the world and humanity spoke the words which have become the record of Holy Writ: “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends’.”

    Declared Mr. Willoughby, “it was not for themselves these men gave their lives. It was for us, their friends.”

    Quoting portions of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Mr. Willoughby said, “We are met today to dedicate a memorial – but let, us also dedicate ourselves to the unfinished task.” We say “They are dead." But the Author of Life says, “They being dead yet speak. And in their silent voice they give their command; ‘Go on. Gain the victory. Win the peace’.”

    Offers City’s Praise.

    Praising the young men who have lost their lives through war action, Mr. Willoughby said,

    “We begin to appreciate the tremendous price of the preservation of decency and freedom in a world of peace. One life is too much to pay for anything less than the achievement of complete victory over the evil that seeks to destroy the liberty and happiness of people in pursuit of a way of life in which contentment and peace may be enjoyed.

    “Thus far more than 100 men of our community, in a national total of well over 100,000 Americans with all the hopes and aspiration of youths, have turned aside from the usual normalcy of their lives to fulfill a responsibility which they regarded as commensurate with their privilege of citizenship. And withholding not a thing they have courageously and unselfishly mad life’s highest commitment.”

    The memorial will remain Bay county’s tribute to her war dead until arrival of peace when the community will erect a “living memorial” probably a recreational building for use of all citizens.

    Mrs. William B. Headington, 504 Sidney street unvieled the board which has the name of her son, Robert Wayne Headington, leading the rest. He was Bay City’s first World War II casualty, losing his life at Pearl Harbor when he was only 19 years old.

    Gun Salute is Feature.

    Frank E. Merritt, secretary of the Lions’ club presided in the ceremony, which featured a gun salute by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and taps by the Drum and Bugle Corps of Harding-Olk-Craidge post, No. 18, of the American Legion. Theodore M. Neidzielski’s Choir Chopin Sang.

    Civic and veterans leaders, who introduced in the afternoon ceremonies, included: Mayor William H. Tomlinson, of Bay City; Mayor George Byers, of Essexville; Mayor Joseph Meyette, of Pinconning; C.C. Keegan, commander of the Legion; John W. Miller, chairman pro-tem of the Bay County Council of Veterans Affairs; and Supervisors’ Chairman John G. Ziegler.

    Floral remembrances were placed on the memorial by the heroes’ families, their friends, veterans’ organizations and union groups which some of the men had once belonged. City workers erected the foundation and also landscaped the project.

    Related Notes & Pages

    War Deaths Memorial
    Groups/
    Service Memorial Center
    People Referenced
    Byers, George
    Gansser, A.H. (Lt.Col.)
    Headington, Robert W.
    Headington, Wm. B. Mrs.
    Keegan, C.C.
    Lincoln, Abraham (Pres.)
    Merritt, Frank E.
    Meyette, Joseph
    Miller, John W.
    Neidzielski, Thos. M.
    Tomlinson, Wm. H.
    Willoughby, Leon E. (Rev.)
    Ziegler, John G.
    Subjects Referenced
    1st WWII casualty
    American Legion
    Battery Park
    BC Coucil Vets. Affairs
    Choir Chopin
    City commission
    Drum & Bugle Corps
    Harding Oak Craidge Post 18
    Lions' Club
    Pearl Harbor
    Salem Evangelical church
    Sidney street, 504
    Spanish America War
    Veterans of Foreign Wars
    World War I
    World War II
    Internet Resources
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