CULLMAN, Ala. – Following World War I, Cullman County’s citizens followed the widely-practiced and time-honored tradition of inscribing the names of their fallen warriors in stone, on a memorial now located in Veterans Park at Sportsman Lake in Cullman. However, recent research has shown that they missed a few.
When reading up on the stories of Cullman’s soldiers in “The Great War,” Tribune reporter Christy Perry discovered five Cullman County soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country, but were overlooked when the memorial went up. Using archival and online resources unavailable decades ago, she found their homes, communities and stories.
Perry said, “Remembering the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country is something I am very passionate about. I wanted to put faces and stories to the names on the memorials at Cullman’s Veterans Park and share them in the Cullman Tribune. I began researching the names of those on the World War I memorial and soon discovered names of men from Cullman County who died during the war, yet their names were not inscribed.
“At first I thought it was just one soldier-–Clyde Brazil of Bremen. I couldn’t sleep that night from wondering how to fix this innocent oversight.
“The next morning, knowing he was veteran, I called Commissioner Garry Marchman and told him what I had found. The Cullman County Commission had recently created a three–member Veterans Park Board and I was asked to call Ken Brown, chairperson of that board. I called and sent him all the information I had on Mr. Brazil. Brown was extremely helpful and began working on having the name added to the monument.
“The only problem with that is the front of the monument has no more room, so the name would be added to the other side. I thought it was sad for Brazil to be the only name on the back side of the monument, but it sure beat not being on there at all.
“That night, as my fiance and I began to research more into those lost during the first World War, we soon discovered more names. Before the night was over, we found 10 more men who would potentially need to be added to the memorial. That was not a message Brown was prepared to get but, again, he knew the monument needed to be correct.”
The couple sifted through draft cards, Gold Star cards (based on awards given to families of fallen soldiers), old newspaper articles and genealogy websites to find as much information as possible.
Said Perry, “It was easy to understand how these men were inadvertently overlooked. Records from over 100 years ago can be difficult to gather and many of these men listed their rural locations rather than listing Cullman County on paperwork.”
After their findings were presented to the Veterans Park Board, it was determined that five names would be added:
- Fritz Galin of Welti
- John Boyd of Arkadelphia
- Clyde G. Brazil of Bremen
- Merritt E. Carlisle of Loretto
- William C. Reighley of Cullman
The names have been added to the monument, and the men will be honored at this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony, Saturday, May 29, at Cullman’s Veterans Park. This year’s ceremony will be hosted by the American Legion Post 4, and Perry has been asked to speak about the five soldiers.
Perry noted, “This is a special year in that the bodies of those returning from Europe arrived in 1921, although the war ended on November 11, 1918.”
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