By: Carrie Heath, November 15, 2023
The board of The Green Free Library and The Gmeiner Art & Cultural Center proudly invite the public to come to the rededication ceremony for Wellsboro’s World War II Memorial located between the two buildings at 134 Main Street, Wellsboro. The ceremony will be held on Pearl Harbor Day, Thursday, December 7th, at 1PM and will be led by Tim Cleveland of the Tioga County Veterans Affairs office.
The original listing of Wellsboro’s WWII veterans was a simple painted sign near the Penn Wells hotel that was taken down in the 1950s. In the late 1990s, Betty Coolidge Frazier and Joan Spencer Hart formed the “Lest We Forget” committee to create a more permanent honor roll. The memorial is a simple, but profound listing of the names of llocal veterans who served during WWII. Those who never returned are marked with gold stars. The memorial was dedicated on November 11, 2002.
In the twenty years since then, this site became a little overgrown and timeworn. One of the pine trees died. Another completely blocked the view of the memorial from the street. The juniper had overgrown the brick pavers, many of which had heaved from repeated frosts. The concrete base of the “Tree of Life” statue was crumbling, and there was algae growing on the granite plinths. There was also no easy pathway to access the memorial area, especially for anyone with a wheelchair or walker.
Over the past year, the World War II Memorial has undergone an extensive renovation in order to make the site more visible and accessible to the community. A new concrete pad and sidewalk make it much easier to get to the Memorial. New asphalt and crosswalks help in this regard as well. The Tree of Life statue by sculptor Gareth Curtiss with its “Speaking Stones” poem by local veteran David Bliss has been moved in front of the memorial where it can be better viewed. The Memorial stones have been cleaned and polished. The landscaping has been redone with plants that will bloom in red, white, and blue from spring through fall. A pair of benches will be placed in the area to provide seating.
We want the Memorial to be easily accessible to the public and to be a place of reverence in memory of all those who served. As the original “Lest We Forget” committee stated, “Just steps away from the library, the WWII Memorial will hold, forever, the UNTOLD stories of our freedom fighters, many of whom, found them too painful to share with their loved ones.” Come see the changes that have been made, and take a moment to remember the sacrifices of the heroes listed on the Memorial during our rededication ceremony.