Veteran wins award for volunteering his time
Edward Mihalacki, of Mt. Pleasant Township, has been named June’s Mt. Pleasant Citizen of the Month.
“I’m very surprised and pleased,” Mihalacki said.
Mihalacki was nominated for the award because of the countless hours he volunteered towards the design and completion of the Veterans Wall and the obelisks, or pillars, that now grace Veterans Park in Mt. Pleasant.
“He was the first one to volunteer,” Larry Tate, Veterans Park committee member, said. “He came to the meeting and said ‘what can I do to help?'”
Mihalacki, a recipient of the Bronze Star awarded to him for time served in Vietnam, has made the military and its history a true passion in his life. He was a member of the organization that erected the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located at Twin Lakes Park.
“I was involved with the Vietnam memorial, but not to the extent that I was with the Veterans Wall. I wanted to be part of the committee and help in any way that I could,” Mihalacki said.
And help he did.
“He was always optimistic. He had a good, positive attitude the entire time we worked on it,” Tate said.
Possessing great knowledge of military history helped Mihalacki with the project.
The three obelisks that grace the park depict different scenes. The intricate carvings represent the high point of each of the branches of the military that were active during World War II.
“When we started, the discussion went many ways. All wars, even the Revolutionary War, have their controversies; all it seemed, except for World War II,” Mihalacki explained.
So the committee decided to have the pillars depict different pivotal scenes from World War II.
“I knew what I considered the high point of each, but I e-mailed historians from each individual branch, and they told me what they thought,” Mihalacki explained.
When he decided what events would be depicted, Mihalacki got actual photographs for the pillars.
The Army is represented by a scene from Normandy, with an actual photograph taken on D-Day. The Battle of Midway represents the Navy, one of the pivotal battles in history. The Marines are represented by the famous raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.
The Air Force is honored with a scene of a B-17 bombing an aircraft factory. The Coast Guard is recognized by a submarine-hunting scene. The Merchant Marines are seen running supplies.
The scenes were carved — freehand — from the photos, and brought to Mt. Pleasant for display.
“It was amazing how it was done. It was all done freehand, not using any type of pattern or stencils,” Mihalacki said.
From beginning to end, Mihalacki spent approximately six months working with the project.
His name is among the hundreds on the Veterans Wall.
“I hope one day my grandchildren will come here and say ‘that was my grandfather.'”
He did not expect to receive awards or even recognition for the project.
“My wife told me that I had to go to the council meeting for a picture of the committee. She said that it was the only time that we could all get together. Then, when I realized what I was there for, I was totally stunned.”
“Number one, I thought, I don’t think that I deserve this, and number two, I said ‘thank you, thank you.’ I’m very thankful and grateful.”
Mihalacki and his wife, Janet, have two daughters, Laura and Katie. He presently is employed as a teacher at Wendover Middle School, where he teaches technology education.