Veterans’ memories to be sealed in capsule

Published 2:37 am Thursday, September 23, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Old newspapers, pieces of shrapnel, medals, journals and a set of army fatigues were neatly laid out on tables in front of the Fort St. Joseph Museum Wednesday night.
The items on display will be sealed in two time capsules to be buried at the Veterans Memorial being constructed in Riverfront Park.
The capsules will be unearthed in 50 years so that future Niles residents can know of the contributions that Niles has made to the United States military.
Lou Liebetrau, co-chair of the Veterans Memorial Committee, was very pleased with the donated items.
Liebetrau said the monument has always been her dream since she moved to Niles 59 years ago.
Some of the items that will be sealed in the capsules include pictures of Niles residents who served in the military, artifacts dating back to the Civil War era, even some military awards.
A copy of "The Monitor of the Civil War," the journal of David Robert Ellis, great-grandfather of Committee co-chair Mike Ellis, will be sealed in the capsule.
David Robert Ellis was a "coal heaper" aboard the Monitor, a Civil War battle ship.
Replications of maps from World War II will be sealed as well. One map shows every American base located in the United States during the war, another shows every American base in Europe during the war.
An edition of the Niles Daily Star, which features a picture of Niles resident Ray Phillips on the cover, from 1969, has pictures of every serviceman from the Niles area who served in Vietnam.
Phillips also donated a Purple Heart award that he received during his service.
McCormick, president of the Niles Fort St. Joseph Historical Association, said that she's had total strangers knock on her door to donate items to be put in the time capsules.
Donna Ochenryder, who has been busy organizing all the donated materials, included a collage of photographs she took showing downtown Niles in 1967 and also in 2003, to illustrate the changes to the downtown streetscape.
There is also an enlarged picture of the entire city taken from an aerial view that shows the city before urban development.
Some of the most recent contributions to the capsule came from Niles resident Valeta Covington, who served in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Covington donated the fatigues she wore, a piece of shrapnel from a SCUD missile, a Kuwait Liberation Medal, Kuwaiti money, photographs she took during her service, and even some sand from Saudi Arabia.
Covington served in Operation Desert Storm with her husband, John, as part of the 144th Evac Hospital, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Anyone interested in donating items to be included in the time capsules should contact Donna Ochenryder at (269) 684-2796.