Steelworkers Veterans Memorial Rededicated at the National Museum of Industrial History

BETHLEHEM, Pa – Members of the Bethlehem Steelworkers Veterans Memorial Committee re-dedicated the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial at its new home in the plaza of the National Museum of Industrial History earlier today, November 11th, in a Veterans Day ceremony honoring those who served.

Originally dedicated in May of 1989, the memorial was recently relocated from its original home outside the South Bethlehem plant’s employee entrance gate with financial assistance from the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority and the Bethlehem Parking Authority.

What was supposed to be a small plaque became a more substantial undertaking under the vision of the late Raymond F. Rosati, Jr., a Bethlehem Steel millwright from Hellertown. Mr. Rosati, a U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam veteran, designed the memorial which was built with the aid of plant personnel and machine shops, and constructed in the shipping yard maintenance shop. With plaques added in later years through grants procured by the late Rep. William C. Rybak, the monument serves as a testament to the workers and veterans of the nation’s steel mills.

In attendance at the ceremony were Mr. Rosati’s widow, Iris, his son, Nathan, his granddaughter, Hannah, and his grandson, Dante. Thomas Marrero, a fellow steelworker and Mr. Rosati’s brother-in-law, was also in attendance.

An invocation by committee member John Solotwa and the presenting of colors by Lehigh University’s ROTC Color Guard began the ceremony. Richard G. Schimmel, a WWII veteran and survivor of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, was the guest of honor for the day. Schimmel, a native of Allentown, was a member of the Army Air Corps’ Signal Aircraft Warning Company. He took questions from the crowd and said of his experience at Pearl Harbor that, “We had one thing in mind – to do our job.”

Dignitaries included Pennsylvania Representative Mike Schlossberg, who delivered remarks. “I have found that these moments are not only about one individual, but it’s also about honoring something bigger…so I am here today to not only say thank you but to do so on behalf of every elected official in Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania Representative Peter Schweyer also spoke, recounting his father’s personal struggles following his service in Vietnam. “When we think about Veterans Day, I don’t want to just think about and just honor the sacrifices that our individual service men and women have made, because their families go through so much. So, as I’m looking out to our veterans and to our active service men and women here, I also want to thank all of their family members.” Sabrina McLaughlin, a staff member from Congresswoman Susan Wild’s office, also delivered brief remarks on behalf of Representative Wild.

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was United States Army Master Sergeant Stephan C. Potsko.  Sergeant Potsko, a Military Science Instructor at Lehigh University and an Iraq War veteran, serves as Assistant Director at Lehigh University’s Vistex Institute for Executive Learning and Research.

“Times change, and the world changes around us. We feel as though part of our own history is fading around us, so we look to those elements that are persistent, things like this Veterans Memorial,” said Potsko. “In just about a week it will be a full 25 years since the furnaces here at the mill went cold for good. The ‘last cast’, as it’s known, signaled the end of an era, but not the end of the memories of those who lived it. “

Potsko continued, “Even though some fixtures of Bethlehem Steel, like Martin Tower, are gone, the memories and stories of the steel plant remain, preserved and maintained by organizations like the National Museum of Industrial History. In a real and tangible way, the stories of our veterans will be preserved by rededicating this memorial and rededicating our efforts to remember and honor those who served.”

He concluded by saying Lehigh University’s ROTC program, in existence for over 100 years, is nicknamed the ‘Steel Battalion’, and, “like steel, we build the future and protect what we cherish.”

Tim “Sarge” Parsons, president of the Lehigh Valley chapter of the Nam Knights of America Motorcycle Club, presented the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial Committee with a $1,000 check to aid in the upkeep of the memorial.  The committee also presented the Bethlehem Mounted Police with a check for $200 to thank them for their assistance in traffic and crowd control over the years.

The Steelworkers Veterans Memorial Committee currently includes Donald Trexler, Frank Behum, Frank Ferencin, Tom Marrero, William Wiessner, Barry Trexler, Dan Zrinski, John Solotwa, Lester Clore, Richard Sterner, James “Duke” Snyder, James McAndrew, and Charlie Korpics.

Emeritus members include Howard Breisch, Ray Rosati Jr., Paul Coachys, Robert Burky, Charles Shankweiler, Richard McLaughlin, Louis Falcone, Leo Keim, and Bill Seydl.


United States Army Master Sergeant Stephan C. Potsko addresses the crowd at the National Museum of Industrial History on Veterans Day


The crowd looks on as United States Army Master Sergeant Stephan C. Potsko rededicated the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial at NMIH on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.


A color guard from Lehigh University presents the colors at the beginning of the Veterans Day ceremony.


Members of Lehigh University’s ROTC program salute the flag as the national anthem is played.


Members of Lehigh University’s ROTC program salute the flag as the national anthem is played.


Officers from Bethlehem Police’s Mounted Patrol Unit salute as the national anthem is played at NMIH’s Veterans Day ceremony.


Family members of Raymond Rosati Jr., who envisioned the memorial, are honored by Frank Behum Sr., right, at the ceremony.


Richard G. Schimmel, a WWII veteran and survivor of the attacks at Pearl Harbor, watches the ceremonies.


Richard G. Schimmel, a WWII veteran and survivor of the attacks at Pearl Harbor, takes questions from the crowd about his service.


Rep. Mike Schlossberg speaks to the crowd outside of the National Museum of Industrial History


Rep. Mike Schlossberg thanks the veterans in attendance for their service to the country.


Rep. Peter Schweyer, recounting his father’s troubles after returning from service in the Vietnam War, thanks veterans, as well as the their families, for the sacrifices they have made.


Bethlehem Police’s Mounted Patrol Unit are presented with a $200 check on behalf of the Steelworkers Veterans Committee as a thank you for their help over the years.


National Museum of Industrial History President & CEO Kara Mohsinger addressed the crowd as the ceremony came to a close.


Members of Lehigh University’s ROTC program pose for a photo following the ceremony.


The Lehigh Valley chapter of the Nam Knights of American Motorcycle Club receive a police escort as they leave the museum.


A woman places a flower next to a pair of boots at the Steelworkers Veterans Memorial at its new home outside of NMIH.

About NMIH
A Smithsonian Institution-affiliate, the National Museum of Industrial History is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. Housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in America, the Museum is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs and amazing history. Learn more at nmih.org.

Media Contact:
Glenn Koehler
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
National Museum of Industrial History
gkoehler@nmih.org

 

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