Who Will Stand Up for Albert Brintzenhofe?
I was horrified when I learned that the Fort Wayne Parks Board had voted in favor of letting Indiana Tech build a sports facility in Memorial Park. In particular, the plan will assure the destruction of the 125 trees that were planted in 1919 to honor the 125 local soldiers who were killed in WW I. These trees convey a message of respect and appreciation that is almost 100 years old and it needs to be preserved and communicated to future generations. The grove of trees is a touching tribute that has somehow survived until now. Once destroyed, it can never be replaced. Luckily, it costs nothing to preserve.
Young Albert Brintzenhofe was one of those soldiers. He grew up on Brooklyn Ave. His dad was a machinist and his mom worked in the knitting mill. His parents were of German heritage but that did not deter him from volunteering just after he turned 19. He enlisted on July 13, 1917 and was shipped off to France three months later. He was a Private First Class with Battery D of the 150th Field Artillery and must have seen a lot of combat before he was killed in action by an explosive shell on August 10, 1918 at the age of 20.
Albert Brintzenhofe is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Fere-en-Tardenois, France. There is no monument to him in the country he fought and died for other than that grove of trees in Memorial Park. That is why they need to be preserved. And there were 124 other kids like him.
The value of the park is not based on how many people play there or picnic there; the value is in the message of respect and honor for our war dead that it conveys from a century ago. We need to preserve that message and pass it on to future generations. It is our cultural heritage.
Here is my suggestion to improve Memorial Park: Have every high school history class visit it once a year for a lesson on WW I. I hope they still teach American history in the public schools!!