Honorary First Defenders Allentown. The Honorary First Defenders strives to perpetuate the memory of the First Defenders who defended our Capitol in 1861 and supports our local military reserve units.

The Honorary First Defenders Wreath Laying CeremonyWest Park

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Wreath Laying Ceremony

West Park, 15th and Linden Streets, Allentown

Held at Ignatz Gresser’s Statue

Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 11:00 AM

Honorary First Defenders Commander,

LTC Richard Kawood, USA (Ret)


The Honorary First Defenders, Allentown Chapter will hold its annual Wreath Laying Ceremony at 11:00 AM on Sunday, April 18th. West Park

  • Presentation/Posting of Colors
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Prayer
  • History of the First Defenders
  • Reading of the Resolution of the 37th Congress
  • Roll Call of the Allen Infantry
  • Laying of the wreath
  • Taps
  • Retire the Colors

Brief History: 

The ceremony honors the original Allen Infantry of the local militia who traveled on April 17, 1861 from Allentown to Harrisburg where they joined four other PA units.  They left by train for Washington and while marching from one train station to another in Baltimore, they were stoned by Southern sympathizers. Thus, the first blood was spilled from this bloody war.  Among those injured was Ignatz Gresser who was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in the Battle of Antietam; the only Allentownian ever so honored.  The men from Pennsylvania were the first to arrive in Washington on April 18th in 1861 in defense of our Capitol.  By their presence they not only deterred the South from any plans they may have had to capture our Capitol; they also may have changed the course of the war itself.  Through their actions they came to be numbered among “The First Defenders” who the Allentown HFD so proudly commemorates through this ceremony.


Information provided to TVL by:
Vi Hertzog
Honorary First Defenders
Public Information Officer