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Saturday, July 29, 2017

An open letter to the Board of Directors serving the Eldred WWII museum

For those of you who know me, thank you for taking the time to read my letter. For those of you that don't, my name is Brandi King Coscia. I was born and raised in this quaint little town. I ask that ALL of you read my words with an open mind and thoughtful consideration. Although I do not know all the members serving on the Board, I do know quite a few of you. You are all well-rounded, successful individuals and for the most part, well-respected in our community.

A recent job post seeking a Director for the Eldred WWII museum has caused many eyebrows to be raised, followed by an outpouring of support for your current director, Mr. Steve Appleby. As the job posting made its way around social media, a Board member graciously enlightened us all stating that Mr. Appleby was still employed by the WWII museum and they were simply realigning positions.

Working in Human Resouces for a large majority of my life, "realigning positions" is a polite way of saying you no longer have this position, period! And for that reason, and that reason alone, is why I am writing to you. I am asking you to reconsider filling the position of Director with anyone other than Steve Appleby.

As you know, Steve has a lengthy history in the military. As a Green Beret, he saw and experienced first hand, the many sorrows that a soldier encounters. 20+ years serving our country and continues to this day serving our community by running the WWII museum. He has a brilliant mind and a passion to educate others about WWII that I have only ever seen in one other individual, Mr. Robert Longnecker. Anyone who had the honor of having Mr. Longnecker knows the passion he exhibited. When listening to Steve on tours of the museum, speaking to children about the military and conducting interviews with VETS, that same burning passion unfolds before you. As he speaks, you are transported to a battlefield amongst your comrades feeling both excitement and fear. You weep as he tells stories and shows memorabilia in the Holocaust room. Aside from his extensive knowledge of WWII, he possesses the ability to communicate effectively with anyone. He is dedicated, timely, responsible and efficient. I am not sure what more you could ask for in a Director. The icing on the cake is that everyone locally knows Steve. They see him every single day walking with his beloved Clyde. Every person, young, old, rich or poor is greeted with the same smile and wave as he travels Main Street. Job opportunities are less than scare in our town of 800 or so people. Why would you even consider removing an individual who has put his blood sweat and tears into this place for the past 9 or so years?

I understand that the grant was lost to fund the museum many years ago. I understand you are looking for someone that can write grants and promote the museum. It appears you need a knowledgable Executive Assistant to work along side Steve and with the Board that possesses that particular skill set. Why would taking away Mr. Appleby's current status need to be touched? When hired, those were not the qualifications for his position. It is understood that you need help and are seeking an individual to assist but the path that you are taking to find that individual, all the while displacing the best thing that has ever happened to the museum, is quite disturbing. Furthermore, stating Steve is still employed and allowing others to believe you are not taking his position away is an act of betrayal. Again, this is not an attack on any of you personally, it is a request to rethink your mission.

Steve's life has been dedicated to serving OUR country. His children are following in his footsteps. I salute you all and am honored to know and feel the love you have for this great country. Working as the director of the museum has been a life long goal and dream job for Steve. He is able to continue to educate and embody so many individuals from all over the country in that museum.
He is the reason individuals come back and visit multiple times. A museum alone can be a very boring place but accompanied by a passionate captain, it is fascinating. My fear is that some of you would rather see the doors close than to continue operating. When is the last time one of you were present for Steve's monthly presentations? When is the last time you joined him for a tour, or sat with him during an emotional interview with one of our VETS? Eldred has finally found a place on the map because of this museum. To close its doors and walk away would be devastating. I certainly hope the heresay is inaccurate and that our museum will continue to invite those near and far with welcoming arms.

As I close this letter, I want you to understand how very difficult it was for so many to see the decision of this Board to realign positions. I had to refrain from addressing you for several days to avoid embarrassing myself, my family and more importantly Steve and his family as I was livid. My choice of words were not well thought out and were quite ignorant. I wasn't raised that way and knew I had to wait in order to maintain control. I also wasn't raised to stand by and let bad things happen to good people and to proudly defend them and support them in any way shape or form. That is exactly what I am doing. I ask that you reconsider your decision to remove Steve as the Eldred WWII Director. I ask that you listen to the people of our town. I ask that you step down as a Board member if you are not currently, intimately involved with the museum and I ask that before you move forward with assigning a new Director, you spend some time with Steve in that museum, listen as he speaks to today's youth about the military, hold the hand of a VET with Steve as he or she tells their story.

Thank you for your service Mr. Steve Appleby.

Best Regards,
Brandi M Coscia
Eldred, PA


Anonymous said...

Well said!!!
And Thank you Brandi for taking the time to write what most are thinking.

Solomon Reffo said...

I second every word! Steve does an amazing job and when our cadets came to tour this museum, Steve was able to gain their interest for knowledge immediately and tell them so many stories and facts that it was like a trip through history! This man deserves to run this museum and no one else will be able to fill his shoes in preforming the duties of director in the manner that he does! Removing him would be tragic and the museum would lose their best advocate and friend it has ever had!

Anonymous said...

To those who have not been to the Eldred WWII Museum, you are missing a treasure worthy of being placed anywhere in this country, but McKean County is lucky to have it call Eldred home.
To add to this conundrum: Unfortunately, a new board member came on board who is NOT qualified for such a position, he buffaloed and bamboozled (LIED) his way on to the board by telling many non-truths (as he is well known in the community to do) and unfortunately, the Roudebush family benefactors believed him. He immediately took issue with the current Museum Director and has publicly stated as such. This is not at all about airing a community's dirty laundry, this is about trying to take an asset almost as important as the artifacts contained within and relieve him of his duties. The current Museum Director has a passion for all things military (as stated in previous post, retired US Army Green Beret) but more specifically, WWII. I defy ANY on the museum board to have 1/10 of the knowledge of the complexity of the battles, both political and militarily, that were fought in WWII. To have one person come on the museum board and wage a personal attack to dismiss the current Museum Director spells the beginning of the end for this museum. The irony of this current situation is not lost, one person trying to convince many, to do bad things.
This is not just Eldred's museum, nor is it just McKean County's museum, it is America's museum. This museum represents and honors those who Tom Brokaw coined as "The Greatest Generation". It honors them and teaches future generations of the valiant national effort that was waged to win that war. The exhibits contained within are about more than just the troops who valiantly and bravely stopped our world from being in a very dark place. This museum celebrates the brave soldiers, sailors and air corps, but it also salutes the ladies at the munitions factories, the ladies who built or ferried airplanes, who sewed parachutes, worked in the factories and all of the tasks on the Homefront that contributed to the Allies victory and defeat of a TYRANT in WWII.
In that spirit, the public needs to speak up, write letters to the museum board to keep the museum's current director. Any club, organization, schools or individuals who have been to the museum, speak up! Let your voice be heard, tell how you felt when you listened to the current Museum director speak during your visit. His knowledge is unrivaled, his passion is infectious and he is is the one who is responsible for the departing visitors to marvel what an awesome tribute and local treasure this museum is. Unite to save the museum by removing the TYRANT from the museum board, not the Museum Director. Enough said........

Anonymous said...

very well said about Steve and the museum..Our town is so lucky to have such a great place and it is so nice to see buses, veterans, and school tours down there. And about Steve, he is always smiling and that make you feel so comfortable visiting our WW2 museum. Thanks Brandi.............and a great big thanks to Steve

Anonymous said...

Steve assisted me with a WWI presentation earlier this year. I was immediately impressed with his knowledge, passion, energy, and, more than anything, his friendliness. Hopefully common sense prevails over dollars and cents in this case.

Anonymous said...

What a thoughtful, informative letter that I pray reaches many others.
I hope to hear that her request is given serious consideration,and keeps Steve's position intact. While I have not met him,or been to the museum, it is now high on list of places to visit when possible. Our family has high respect for every veteran, and it would be a privilege to meet and give Steve a hug! And it will be my honor to thank any Veteran visiting at that time, as I do to those who identify by the cap they wear when out and about.
I do not know Brandi, but would be pleased to meet her if our paths would cross.Blessings to all, and reading this is an inspiration as we start a fresh,new week. Sandra Kline

Anonymous said...

God Bless you and your words of support!!

Ruth Baker said...

Very well written letter Brandi!. Thank you for bringing this situation out in the open. I have dealt with Steve and am so thankful for his help. I donated some of my grandfather's WW1 items to the museum. Steve helped me so much when I was trying to find a place for my grandfathers legacy to go forward. This man has so much knowledge and such a passion to do the wonderful job he does. I will be writing to the board as I DO NOT want Steve removed. What an injustice that would be to the museum and also to Steve. He is perfect for the job. Thank You Steve and God Bless You!!

Anonymous said...

Just curious who is on this board of directors....?

Anonymous said...

I just found this very important post and wondered if it could be reposted so that more people would have the chance to see it.

Anonymous said...

I recently attended a lecture at mckean county courthouse. The topic was ww2 and he was so engaging, funny, accurate in fact and details. He is what draws people to the museum. To lose him from museum would be the biggest blunder ever made.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely pray that the board would take Brandi's words to heart. Steve is the main reason my boys love WW II history. He takes veteran's stories and makes them personified to all his listeners. What a significant way to honor those who served, some with the sacrifice of their lives. He is friendly, approachable, knowledgeable and compassionate. His monthly presentations are so insightful and interesting. To remove him as Director would be a huge travesty to the museum and the community of Eldred. My boys, ages 17, 13, 11, 9, and 7 have all stated that they would not desire to return to the museum without him as Director. If there is anyone else to contact or a petition to sign re this consideration, please post that in Solomon's word.