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Dedicated Memorial Day 1909, rededicated 2010

Published June 04. 2010 05:00PM

A large crowd gathered around the Civil War Memorial in Union Cemetery, Slatington, on Memorial Day 1909.

The memorial had been provided by Samuel H. Kress, nephew to Samuel Kress, who died during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Samuel H. was born in nearby Cherryville on July 23, 1863.

Samuel and some friends enlisted in Company I, 153rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.

They saw action at Chancellorsville, Va., and on July 1 they reached Gettysburg. Kress was shot in the thigh and tried to get up when a second shot hit him in the chest.

He was buried with six others in a trench. Some weeks later his brother John and a friend, William Henry, took the body to St. Paul's Indianland Cemetery, Lehigh Township. On May 17, 1909, the body was moved again, this time to Union Cemetery The Union Church that owns the cemetery was St. John's Reformed and Lutheran Church of Slatington. It has since separated.

In 1882 a Grand Army of the Republic Post was formed by 12 surviving Union Army Civil War veterans. It was named the Samuel Kress Post #284 in memory of Kress. By 1909 it had 128 members.

Samuel H. Kress had built a number of successful 5, 10 and 25-cent stores. As his first major philanthropy he donated a Civil War memorial monument to be placed in Union Cemetery where his uncle now rested. It was dedicated May 31, 1909.

The parade and dedication ceremony were described as the "most elaborate and impressive Memorial Day exercises ever held in the borough."

Samuel H. was known for his shyness and it was considered special that he attended the ceremony. Samuel John Kress, the young son of Palmer Kress, unveiled the monument.

And so it remained for 100 years until talk turned toward a rededication.

The rededication came to pass, when, on Memorial Day, 2010, a large crowd gather in Union Cemetery, Slatington.

"The Battle Cry of Freedom" was sung by Katie and Maggie Surdovel.

Dennis Ziegler told about the formation of GAR Post 284 and Stott gave the history of the Kress family.

Col. Pete Peters, 1st Federal Division, one of the re-enactors participating, said the Union soldiers wanted freedom for all. The monument was dedicated to the citizens of Slatington. He believes future generations will rededicate it in different ways.

The bugle sound is gone for the soldiers rest in deep sleep.

The Rev. Martin Nuscher of Indianland stood here 101 years ago as a testament to those brave men who fought those who offered us freedom. He thanked the volunteers who renovated and rededicated the monument.

The re-enactors fired a salute from the memorial. Members of the Legion rifle detail stood on the upper side of the memorial. The re-enactors marched around and the Legion was in front, and fired a salute for the Memorial Day service.

"Taps" was played by Joshua Gyory and John Hudika, with one bugler echoing the other.

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