PIEDMONT - Piedmont residents and a number of visitors gathered together recently to remember two hometown people - Ida Ruth Gulliver, a former teacher at both Howard School and Keyser High School, and Aubrey Stewart, who served his country and lost his life as part of the Wereth 11.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
PIEDMONT - Piedmont residents and a number of visitors gathered together recently to remember two hometown people -   Ida Ruth Gulliver, a former teacher at both Howard School and Keyser High School, and Aubrey Stewart, who served his country and lost his life as part of the Wereth 11.
Stewart, when in his late 30s, joined the United States Army - not because he had to, but because he wanted to.
He, along with 10 other black soldiers became part of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, and all of them lost their lives during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, in Belgium.
The soldiers became known as the Wereth 11, so named because of the nearby town by the same name where their ultimate sacrifice was given.
T.J. Coleman, chairman of the Aubrey Stewart Project, spoke to those gathered to say that the sign situated on the Piedmont side of the bridge to Westernport to honor Stewart was stolen, and a new one would be dedicated at the end of the program.
Ava Rexrode, a Keyser High School freshman and a Junior Ambassador for the Aubrey Stewart Project, was the first of several guest speakers.
She said that she didn’t know anything about Aubrey Stewart or the Wereth 11 until Coleman made a presentation with that information at her school.
“I became interested,” she said about the information that Coleman gave to the students.
Rexrode encouraged others to “get involved with the Aubrey Stewart Project.”
As part of the program, Rexrode and Zoe Long, also a freshman at Keyser School, unveiled a portrait of Stewart.
Gary Clem was also a guest speaker, and he recalled how many years back he became acquainted with Coleman, and they both had interest in their perspective communities.
Clem said to the audience, “You can take up the banner held by T.J.,” asking those in attendance to “promote goodwill,” with all of Mineral County coming together in one accord, and, “Hate is not an option.”
He said about the need to bring the communities together, that is what “Stewart would want.”
Clem mentioned those who may be looking down on the present event centered on the memory of Stewart, naming Alberta Coleman, Bill Hood, John Price, and others who he felt were  “giving their approval,” so, “Let’s all get to work.”
An additional speaker was former Luke paper mill manager Scott Graham, who mentioned only knowing about Stewart in the last six months.
He said that in the time Stewart worked at the paper company, “He probably was not treated as well as others,” mentioning Stewart “had hard physical work in a hot facility.”
Graham said, “But what Stewart did do was volunteer to serve his country,” noting “The great sacrifice Stewart made for his county and his community.”
Jackie Washington, a niece of Stewart, who unveiled the first sign to honor her uncle, said, “Let us remember that he stood, and fought, and died so we can have freedom.”
Washington was part of ceremony of the placement of candles in the 11-space candelabra to remember the Wereth 11.
She placed her candle in the spot designated for Stewart, and others participating in this part of the program were Gary Clem, Ava Rexrode, Damon Tillman, Dinah Courrier, Tom Groves, Jim Shaver, Mya Purvis, Elijah Rexrode, Gary Howell, and Zoe Long.
Taps and a gun salute was offered by members of the Piedmont American Legion.