By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MILTON — It was sunshine mixed with patriotism in Milton on Sunday afternoon as about 150 people gathered downtown to mark the 150th anniversary of “In God We Trust,” the phrase Gov. James Pollock coined and which eventually won congressional approval to be put on American currency.
This day featured tributes to American veterans as well as remembering Pollock, whose phrase first went on a two-cent piece. Pastor Jilline Bond, of Revival Tabernacle, Watsontown, emceed the gathering at the Veterans Memorial on South Front Street, one of several marking the anniversary over the past week.
The In God We Trust Museum will include exhibits from the two significant periods of the motto: the Civil War, when the phrase was created and put on currency, and the Cold War-era, when the phrase became the national motto.
Tom Reimensnyder, a Korean war veteran and local veterans’ advocate, recounted the contributions of American troops around the world over the last 150 years but especially during those two particular periods. Like Pollock himself, “what we need to do is be outspoken,” Reimensnyder said. “It takes just one person to step in the right direction” to make a difference. ... “This nation was founded and understood that we didn’t say no to God.”
The Rev. Stephen Shirk, of First Presbyterian Church, also spoke of Pollock’s integrity and persistence and what it meant for Pennsylvania as well as the country.
Pollock was Pennsylvania’s 13th governor from 1855 to 1858 and director of the U.S. Mint from 1861 to 1866. Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase instructed Pollock to come up with suggestions for including “the trust of our people in God” in a motto on America’s coins. Pollock proposed several mottoes, a revision of which became “In God We Trust.” The 1864 two-cent piece was the first coin with the motto.
Contributing to the spirit Sunday were the Milton Area Senior High School Marching Black Panthers, who played the national anthem and “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and an honor guard from the Milton American Legion, which fired a round in honor of veterans everywhere.
The day started with a Civil War-era church service in Bethany United Methodist Church, leading to the tribute that opened a street fair, featuring a Civil War encampment and the 149th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, “the Bucktails,” who stood along with the honor guard while women in period costume glided around the grounds.
Open house events all afternoon included a preview of the In God We Trust Museum on South Front Street.
“Everything went really great,” Milton Main Street Manager George Venios said of the week of events. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Next comes the work of fundraising, as the group is hoping to raise $1 million for the museum and an endowment for its operation.