PIEDMONT - Ever striving to promote a positive outlook on life through the Aubrey Stewart Project, T.J. Coleman has chosen to turn a recent upsetting experience into an opportunity for something better.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
PIEDMONT - Ever striving to promote a positive outlook on life through the Aubrey Stewart Project, T.J. Coleman has chosen to turn a recent upsetting experience into an opportunity for something better.
Coleman founded the Aubrey Stewart Project several years ago to honor the Piedmont native who volunteered to serve his country at the age of 36 and fought in World War II as part of an all-black company of soldiers.
He and 10 other men were tortured and murdered by German solders in a snowy field near Wereth, Belgium, however, and the group went down in history as the “Wereth 11.”
In his memory, Coleman founded the project and has visited schools, veterans’ organizations, churches and other groups spreading a message of duty, honor and service.
As part of the tribute paid to the Piedmont son, a sign was erected in May at the entrance of Piedmont, declaring it the home of Aubrey Stewart.
In early August, that sign was stolen.
Coleman expressed his thoughts on the theft via social media: The sign we erected of Mr. Aubrey, to serve as a beacon of light for all who enter our town of Piedmont, was removed. It was taken without permission or authority.
“This is a war hero! He gave his life to give us the lives we have today.
“Mr. Aubrey Stewart doesn’t deserve this!”
Just a few days after Coleman posted that comment, however, the sign was recovered, and rather than remain bitter about the incident, Coleman decided to turn things around.
“Although initially I was very upset about the sign being taken, I’ve decided to do something better and more positive about it,” he said.
“This is what we’ll do: We’ll get Mr. Aubrey Stewart a new sign; a bigger sign that can be raised and seen off the ground level.”
So that more people can experience a sense of ownership in the tribute, Coleman is inviting people to make a donation toward the purchase of a larger sign, which E&S Fabrics of Keyser will craft for the town of Piedmont.
“It will serve as a source of pride to our community, and the image of Mr. Aubrey will be the face to welcome all who cross the bridge into Piedmont,” he said.
Those wishing to make a donation toward the sign may take it to the First United Bank & Trust in Piedmont and Keyser, with donations to be made to The Aubrey Stewart Project.