Monday, December 23, 2013

Memorial Chapel Mystery

The “Mystery” of Memorial Chapel is as follows.

On the campus of Lake Junaluska, a United Methodist Church Conference and Retreat Center in the western mountains of North Carolina, is a beautiful Chapel erected to honor military men and women from the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church who served during World War II.   The building and all aspects concerning it were to be, and are, a work of art.   The building, furnishings and overall construction gives a visitor a deep sense of awe when entering.  

 All the stained glass windows have embedded in them a number of symbols, but their meaning is not known.  Through research spanning the past three to four years, I have been able to determined that these symbols ARE NOT Masonic, satanic, Native American, Celtic, or any symbols stained glass artist in this country use or recognize.   The windows were made in the 1948 to 1950 time frame. 

One person suggested the symbols might be coded symbols from the Ukraine or Germany or Poland used during WWII.  They may be Christian, or served some other purpose, including military codes.  None of my sources can identify these symbols and my hope is someone visiting this Blog will identify them or can direct me to someone that might know about them.

What I can tell you is that a young man, Lubomyr Stephan Wandzura, (born April 25, 1928 in the Ukraine, died March 10, 2000, in Chicago) came to the U.S. soon after WWII and a short time later, went to work for the company that made the windows (Giannini & Hilgart).  At that time, the company had a practice of employing only people from the Ukraine, Germany or Poland as stain glass artists.  His obituary records that he was a glass painter for the company at the time the windows were made.

Lubomyr and his twin brother were both conscripted into the German army at age 16 and he served as an anti-aircraft gunner on the Russian front until the end of the war.    He and his twin brother came to the U.S. shortly after the war ended.  Both later joined the U.S. Army and served during the Korean War time period as interpreters, since they spoke a number of eastern European languages. At his death, Lubomyr owned to the stained glass Company having purchased it in 1970. 

Lubomyr passed away on March 10, 2000.  He left a wonderful family that I have been able to contact, but they have no knowledge of the symbols.  There are no records remaining concerning the company or its employees.  But all the information I have been able to gather indicates Lubomyr, or another such immigrant, brought the symbols with them from Eastern Europe and inserted them into the windows as they were constructed.

If a visitor to this Blog can help identify these symbols, the Memory and Honor of the Greatest Generation would certainly be enhanced.  And having had three uncles who served their country during WWII, I would personally be greatly appreciative.   

Memorial Chapel is a beautiful structure and the honor of WWII veterans will be greatly enhanced with knowledge of these symbols. 

Warmest Regards,

John Hooper

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