Paying tribute with pysanky egg donation

Veterans Voices

TAMAQUA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Paying tribute to our armed service members comes in all different shapes and sizes, and a display of artistic eggs in Schuylkill County is proof.

On this week’s Veterans Voices, a local artist wanted to do something special to pay tribute to her military grandfather, so she designed a delicate piece of art for her local American Legion Post.

Michelle Argust makes Hungarian pysanky easter eggs as a hobby, but her work has a serious side. She created a series of eggs for the American Legion Post 173 in Tamaqua one for each branch of the military.

The work honors her grandfather who fought at the Battle of the Bulge and in northern France in World War II. Joseph Soika received three Bronze Stars and eventually settled in Kline Township.

Argust recently added to the legion’s donation display with an egg honoring the American Legion Auxiliary. She learned the craft from her grandmother when she was young, a tradition in Ukraine. Over the years the designs became more involved.

“As I got older I decided to master the craft and make various designs over the years. So I’ve been doing it for 35 to 40 years,” said Argust.

The American Legion was founded in 1919, a few years before her grandfather was born, so she asked the Post’s commander what she could do to honor both and that’s how the pysanky egg donation started.

“Michelle displays an incredible talent to pull off these eggs, incredible detail. If you do stop in and have the opportunity to look at them up close, you’ll see the detail that goes into this type of work. It’s truly incredible that somebody takes the time to do something of this magnitude,” Thomas Isleib Commander of Post 173 in Tamaqua.

Soika passed away in 2001, but Michelle says his memory lives on in her heart.

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