This month, Vero Beach honors the man who did more than anyone to create the city we know today.
Alex MacWilliam in the mayor’s office at the old Vero Beach City Hall, located on a site that is now the south-side parking lot of the downtown post office. MacWilliam was mayor for 20 tumultuous years that included the Depression and World War II.
If he hadn’t been the victim of a mustard-gas attack during the First World War, Alex MacWilliam might never have come to Vero Beach, and the town might have been a very different place to the city we know today.
During the war, the 26-year-old Edinburgh native, who had immigrated with his family to Cleveland when he was 18, fought in France as a sergeant in the 318th Machine Gun Battalion. As the English learned so painfully over the centuries (remember Braveheart?), the Scots can be fierce warriors. Soon, Sergeant MacWilliam had received a battlefield promotion to second lieutenant and had won two Purple Hearts, a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and the French Croix de Guerre, presented to him by General John Pershing. One of the acts of courage noted in MacWilliam’s citations described how he had been shot in both legs while rescuing a wounded soldier trapped in no-man’s-land and carried him to safety during the Battle of Verdun.
Read the entire article in the April 2003 issue