Funeral Home has Mini-Museum to Honor Local Veterans
There’s a special room inside the Edder Funeral Home in Girard. It’s a room that honors those who served our country in times of war. The tributes started in 2003 when the funeral home's owner, Dan Edder, hung one picture to honor a young man who was then serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The kid used to work for Dan. His name is Nate Dietsch
"So I put Nate's picture up here on this wall and it wasn't shortly thereafter that another friend said, 'Hey, can my Dad's picture be beside his? And it just grew and grew and grew after that,” recalls Dan.
The room is a mini-museum. Nate returned home safely, but among those honored are local residents who gave the ultimate sacrifice. There's a tribute to Private Russell Silverthorn, who served in World War I. He was from West Erie County . At age 22, he lost his life in the small town of Fismette, France when Germans clearly outnumbered his unit.
"To try to make a long story short, the Germans really let them have it,” says Dan. “I don't know, it was 100 to 1, but there were thousands of Germans that descended on that little town and literally wiped out that entire company of men, including him."
There's a tribute to Tech Sgt. Richard Sargent, of Lake City. A plane carrying his unit crashed during bad weather over the Pacific in World War II. The remains of those men were not found until decades later.
"So, after 60 years, a villager over in New Guinea found one of the dog tags from the guys and eventually they were all recovered," says Dan.
Those who served and died in Korea, Vietnam, The Middle East, and at the Twin Towers in New York, are also honored inside the room. Each picture, each donated piece of memorabilia, has a story. Dan is glad to be able to tell those stories to anyone. He never served in uniform, but has the utmost respect for those who did.
"These are our neighbors. These are real people,” says Dan. “We talk about the boys that had died. That's what Memorial Day is really about. We honor everybody always of course. But, we want to remember those ones that never came home. And there's a lot of them. A lot of stories. They need to be told and that's what this is for."
Dan became interested in hearing stories about veterans after watching the miniseries 'Band of Brothers' and the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan." He wrote a letter to actor Tom Hanks thanking him for sharing those types of stories. A return letter from Hanks can be found on one of the walls of that special room.