Lititz plans memorable Memorial Day

By on May 23, 2018

Each Memorial Day, the nation pauses to recognize those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in all branches of the military in an effort to keep this country free. In Lititz, several activities will take place May 28 to mark the occasion as we pay remembrance to all of our fallen heroes.

Memorial Day Parade
The Lititz American Legion will conduct the annual Memorial Day Parade Monday, May 28 at 10:45 a.m. The short patriotic parade forms on Warwick Street, moves to North Broad, then to East Main, and ends at the Moravian cemetery where a memorial program featuring guest speaker Bill Stauffer will be held. Call 717-626-9906 for more info. After the ceremony, hot dogs, chips, and drinks will be for sale from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the church’s pavilion next to the parking lot.

Learn about Lititz’s Revolutionary War hospital
The Lititz Moravian Museum and Archives, 3 Church St., will host an open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. following the program in the cemetery. Between 1777 and 1778, and while the town was still under the leadership of the Moravian elders, a makeshift military hospital next to the Moravian church was set up in the Brother’s House by order of General George Washington, where soldiers who were wounded during the battles of Germantown and Brandywine were sent to convalesce. Sadly, the hospital was overcrowded, and as a result, “camp fever” broke out within the facility, causing many deaths.

“This is important to our nation’s history because Washington’s men suffered many defeats at the hands of British troops,” said Tom Wentzel, committee member of the Lititz Moravian Archives. “Times were getting desperate for the colonial army due to casualties and sickness.”

An entry from an early Moravian diary penned in Lititz on Dec 28, 1777 reads “The misery in the lazaretto cannot be described; neither can it, without being seen be imagined. The two doctors themselves are sick, and have the attention of Bro. Adolph Meyer (the Lititz physician). Therefore, the soldiers are without medicine.”

“The epidemic spread through Lititz,” Wentzel said. “Fifteen single brethren and four boys and eight others in the village were ill. Seven brethren and three sisters died.”

A general hospital was even considered to be established in town, meaning all of what was known as Lititz at that time would have to be vacated for military use. However, town resident and Moravian brother Ettwein wrote to Washington, respectfully protesting this move. Thankfully, our nation’s first president would accept the plea. Washington’s fateful response in the form of a letter remains in the collection of the Lititz Moravian Congregation, and a facsimile is on display in the Lititz Archives Museum along with a broadside printed in Philadelphia and issued by the Continental Congress stating how ‘non-combatants’ must contribute to the war effort.

Also featured in the museum will be a plaque dedicated to those from the Lititz Moravian Church who served in World War II. Visitors will also be able to view other rare and unusual items housed in the museum plus view the two plaques affixed to the front of the Brother’s House commemorating its use as a hospital. Today, this structure still stands, and is located next to the Lititz Moravian Church, and just across from the archives building.

Lititz Remembers
From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., visit the Lititz Springs Park for a tribute to veterans as Lititz Remembers–a living military timeline–will take center stage throughout the grounds.
This year, the event is co-organized by Erin Myers, who often portrays Rosie the Riveter at local war-themed events. 

“The Memorial Day timeline is a living history event featuring reenactors from all time periods of our nation’s military history, to honor those who served and sacrificed their lives for our country,” said Myers. “Our event features these reenactors interpreting the lives of soldiers ranging from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.” The event will feature displays from everyday items to heavy military equipment ranging from weapons, machinery, to clothing, and even a 1944 International M-2-4 cargo truck.

Guests will see first-hand the progression of the nation’s history of the military, and will journey through the encampments of reenactors and war machinery to witness demonstrations and experience the sights and sounds of the times when the nation &tstr; and the world &tstr; was at war.

Several displays will also pay tribute to the home fronts of our nation’s conflicts and will feature women and children’s roles during war. Visitors will experience first- hand what it would feel like to be a part of a soldier’s life, as well as have an opportunity to ask the reenactors questions.

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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