Bicentennial honors

By on January 30, 2019

The Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley recently received a special donation.

The memento, a bound oversized book, contains letters and correspondence involving a series of Bicentennial-era field masses held locally during the 1970s. These services were held outdoors at area cemeteries, all as a means to honor and pray for the hundreds of unknown soldiers who died in the region during the American Revolution.

The three-year ambitious project was the idea of Richard Fleckenstein of Lititz, who organized these services between 1975 and 1977. The recently donated book is an exhaustive compilation of all of the letters and correspondence Fleckenstein amassed from these services. The various pages contain letters from the White House; as well as from state senators, cardinals, and other dignitaries.

“I kept these all in a file and turned them over to the Knights several years ago,” Fleckenstein said.
Eventually, the letters were organized, and assembled into a gorgeous, large hardbound book via the efforts of Knight Andrew Kuzmiak.

Five services took place each year, for a total of 15 masses altogether. Father Daley Council #4191, Knights of Columbus of Northeastern Lancaster County oversaw these services.

In Ephrata, masses took place in mid September, at the Ephrata Cloister’s Mount Lion Cemetery. In Reamstown, ceremonies took place towards the end of September, at Salem Lutheran and Reformed Union Cemetery. In Brickerville, masses took place at two locations: At Emmanual Lutheran Church cemetery; and Old Zion Reformed Church. In Lititz, the service took place at the Revolutionary War Soldier’s Monument on East Main Street. In all cases,the public was invited to attend.

Pictured (front row left to right) United Zion Retirement Community resident Richard Fleckenstein, Clarence Spohn from the Cocalico Valley Historical Society; (br l-r) Community Chairman Bob Eisenbise and Past Grand Knight from the Knights of Columbus Dave Hugenbruch. Photo by Missi Mortimer.

“I suggested the field masses,” Fleckenstein said. “That was through my pastor and through the Knights of Columbus. “They thought it was a wonderful idea to do it for the three years during the Bicentenial celebration.”

As part of the celebration, in 1976, there was also a time capsule that was placed in the ground June 30 at the Ephrata train station. Contents were to become the property of the Cocalico Valley Historical Society in 2076 — the year it is to be opened.

Fleckenstein is especially thrilled that the collection will have a permanent home and in the care of the historical society.

“The binder is more than documentation of the field masses,” says Dave Hugenbruch, Past Grand Knight of Father Daley Council #4191, who served as a liasion between Fleckenstein and the historical society. “It is a ‘profile of love’ — Richard’s love for his country, the military, his family and friends, his faith, and the Catholic church.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at or 717-721-4423. 

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