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Westminster College Welcomes Veterans Day "Speaker of Freedom"

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Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2002

Westminster College hosts Mary Sigillo Barraco, World War II heroine, at its Veterans Day Celebration Monday, Nov. 11, at 9:30 a.m. in Orr Auditorium.

Barraco, who has often been referred to as "Speaker of Freedom" or "Torchbearer of Freedom" was born in the United States, but moved to her mother's native country of Belgium when she was seven, where her mother worked with several Jewish salesman. After the Germans invaded Belgium in 1940, her family sheltered many Jewish families. In 1941, Barraco joined the Belgium Resistance as an operative.

In 1943, while working with the French underground, she was betrayed, and the Gestapo took Barraco and her fiancé, Arthur Libre, captive. Arthur was executed, and she was sentenced to 16 months in prison. She was moved to several prisons including "347 Avenue Louise," Gestapo torture headquarters, where she was interrogated and tortured with beatings and experiments. They tried everything to break her spirit.

Through her faith in God, she prevailed, and she was released six months later. She resumed her duties with the Belgian Resistance, served until the end of the war, and achieved the rank of captain.

Included in the patriotic program will be comments from Westminster College Board of Trustees Chair Leonard Carroll, President of the College R. Thomas Williamson, College Chaplain Rev. Steve Allen, and Student Government President Christopher Nave.

The program also includes: The 107th Field Artillery, presenting the colors; the Westminster College Band, playing the National Anthem; and the Westminster College Concert Choir singing "America the Beautiful.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact (724) 946-7190.