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'Time to Remember’: Memorial Day at SteelStacks honors the fallen

Micaela Hood
Military members attended a Memorial Day commemoration at SteelStacks on May, 29 2023.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — A somber Memorial Day ceremony ended on a joyous note Monday at SteelStacks as the crowd sang and danced under the sun.

Hundreds of people attended ArtsQuest's “Time to Remember” commemoration and concert at Levitt Pavilion.

Memorial Day Commemoration at SteelStacks

  • ArtsQuest held its annual Memorial Day Commemoration on Monday
  • The patriotic celebration honored fallen military members and included a performance by Band of Brothers
  • Hundreds of attendees gathered to pay their respects by looking at the "Hometown Heroes" display on the SteelStacks campus

The ceremony, presented by Embassy Bank, began with a moment of silence for fallen military members followed by a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner” by Allentown singer Erin Kelly.

Moment of silence

The celebration was attended by guest speakers U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Lehigh Valley; state Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton; Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure; and ArtsQuest CEO Kassie Hilgert.

Micaela Hood
Members of a local chapter of the Purple Heart Riders held American flags during a Memorial Day ceremony at ArtsQuest’s SteelStacks.

Hilgert spoke of the importance of hosting an event on campus.

“When you work at SteelStacks under the shadow of these iconic blast furnaces, you are constantly reminded, not just of the contributions by Bethlehem Steel in defense of this nation, but you also feel the living presence of the men and women in uniform who fought and died so bravely on battlefields far and wide, including my father-in-law — a proud Marine who died not during his service but from it,” Hilgert told the crowd.

Tribute to hometown heroes

McClure shared how his paternal grandfather lost his life in World War ll.

“When my father’s father was killed in the invasion of Okinawa, my grandmother got a citation from President Roosevelt. Toward the end of it, it said…'his sacrifice humbles the endeavors of most men and I am most men.’ It causes me to ask as one of your elected officials, what do I do to honor the sacrifice that my grandfather made — of all of us in the armed forces," McClure said.

Samuelson touched on the various monuments in Bethlehem dedicated to veterans, such as the memorial on Arch and Wood streets and one currently on display at SteelStacks.

“I counted and there are 1,100 pictures here from families all over our community," Samuelson said. "Sometimes there is more than one soldier from a family. There is the Han family of Hellertown. There are three generations. The grandfather fought in World War l, the son fought in World War ll and the grandson fought in Vietnam.”

The banner displays photos of the soldiers, their rank, branch of service, era of service and hometown.

The Hometown Heroes display, in its 13th year, will be up on the campus until July 4.

Micaela Hood
Band of Brothers, a cover band from the Lehigh Valley, performed hits from the Beatles, Prince and the Bestie Boys.

‘A debt purchased by others’

Closing out the ceremony, the parents of Army Capt. Mark T. Resh read the names of several local soldiers who died in war.

His mother, Carol, wept softly as she read her son’s name, as did a few in the crowd.

Resh died in 2007 in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

“Every hot dog, every burger, every spin around the lake or drink with friends and family is a debt purchased by others," Carol Resh said. "This is not about all who served — that day comes in the fall. This one is in honor of those who paid in life and blood, whose moms never saw them again.”

“Every hot dog, every burger, every spin around the lake or drink with friends and family is a debt purchased by others."
Carol Resh, mother of late Army Capt. Mark T. Resh

Janice Rafeld, of Allentown, and her daughter Devra Rafeld, of Emmaus, brought lawn chairs and waved American flags during the ceremony and later enjoyed some tunes during a two-hour concert by Band of Brothers.

While it’s nice to have a day off to spend time with loved ones, the Rafelds said, it is important to pay respects to the military members as well.

“My brother was in Vietnam. He left as an 18-year-old and came back with PTSD. Thank goodness for medication and a great [veterans affairs] center in Ohio,” Janice said. “We just have to be aware of what went on in these wars and never have it happen again.”

Memorial Day Music at SteelStacks

A weekend of patriotic music

Micaela Hood
The Band of Brothers closed out Memorial Day celebrations at ArtsQuest’s SteelStacks on May 29, 2023.

The Band of Brothers got the crowd moving to songs such as Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” and “Hard Day’s Night, by the Beatles.

Dancing on Memorial Day Music at SteelStacks

The Memorial Day Commemoration also featured performances by rock and blues bands including Big Bone Daddy, Hydraulic Lime, Tomberlin and the Wild Hymns on Saturday; and SwingTime Dolls, Dina Hall Band, Craig Thatcher Band and Friar's Point Band on Sunday.

For info on the Hometown Heroes display, click here.