They paid the ultimate sacrifice for the love of our country.
While they can never be repaid for their heroism, the spirits of those soldiers who died to defend our great nation continues to live on.
Perhaps no where was that more evident than at the Memorial Day Parade in Palmerton on Monday, sponsored by the United Veteran's Organization of Palmerton, which consists of the American Legion Post 269 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7134.
The parade formed at Dynamite Woodworking, at Second and Delaware Avenue, where it continued on to Fifth and Delaware. From there, it turned left at the former IGA Golden Key Market to Franklin Avenue, and then back to the park, where it disbanded. Along the way, a wreath made by Jane Stroup was placed at the monument in front of Borough Hall along Delaware Avenue.
Parade participants included Bethany Thomas, a member of Palmerton Girl Scout troop 3112, who served as Miss Poppy; Andrew Proffit, a member of Palmerton Cub Pack 41, who served as Legion Mascot; Palmerton Girl Scout Service Unit; Palmerton Boy Scout troop 41; Palmerton Cub Pack 41; Palmerton Boy Scout troop 20; West End Fire Department #2 of Palmerton; Aquashicola Fire Department; Palmerton Police Department; and Palmerton Ambulance.
A wreath was placed at the Veterans monument at borough hall along Delaware Avenue to honor all veterans.
Services were held immediately after the parade in the borough park. The guest speakers for this year's event were Joe Uhnak, Bruce Reiner and Ed Moyer, all of whom served in the Vietnam Era.
Uhnak and Reiner served in the Army, while Moyer served in the Air Force. The men are active members of the Palmerton American Legion, as well as committee members for the upcoming Veterans Memorial to be placed in the borough park.
Uhnak said the purpose of the event was to "commemorate the soldiers who died in war."
"Today is about remembering those who gave all for their country," Uhnak said. "These fallen soldiers will be forever etched in my mind."
Reiner recounted how the manner in which he celebrates the holiday has changed over the years.
"For many years, Memorial Day was to gather with my Army Military buddies," Reiner said. "It's amazing how Palmerton has honored its brothers and sisters of the military."
Moyer provided some historical insight of the holiday, which he said originally began as Decoration Day and has become the "most solemn day of the year."
"While our parades keep getting smaller, the list of heroes keeps increasing," Moyer said. "A veteran is someone who wrote a blank check for an amount up to and including their life."
Family members of those in the military presently serving overseas and in our country were then given an opportunity to announce their names. Afterward, they received a certificate.
Steve Vlossak, a member of the United Veteran's Organization of Palmerton, asked each veteran in attendance from the U.S. Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Army to come front to receive a pin for their service.
The invocation and benediction were given by Pastor Paul Schoffstall of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Palmerton. Music was provided by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Samantha K. Smith, Salutatorian for the Palmerton Area High School Class of 2011, read "Flanders Field".
Al Kohler, of American Legion Post 269, read off a list of the 43 veterans buried at the two funeral homes in Palmerton since last Memorial Day.
The Palmerton United Veteran's Organization and the borough plan to build the memorial to honor all of the Palmerton area servicemen and women as a tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who served to preserve our freedom.
The memorial will be dedicated on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, to mark the 100-year celebration of the borough.
It will include names of veterans from the American Revolutionary Era to the present – a span of 235 years – who either entered the service while a resident of the Palmerton area, or who have lived in the area at least half of their adult life.
The centerpiece, a sculpture entitled "Some Gave All," was donated by Richard Nothstein, a borough council member who spearheaded the project. It will be surrounded by a wide walkway and standing stones with the names of veterans.
Those who were killed in action will be named on the base of the sculpture. To qualify, veterans need not have seen action. Peacetime veterans will also be honored.
The memorial will be located on a section of land 35-by-40 feet in size in the lower southwest corner of the borough park, where the present flagpole is situated, and will include a list of all veterans' names on granite monuments from all time periods of service.
The sculpture one of 10 that were created will consist of between 30 and 40 slabs of granite with the names of about 200 veterans per slab engraved on the granite. It was made by James N. Mur of Sedona, Ariz., who sent a plaque to Nothstein that told about the sculpture's beginnings. A poem by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell is on one side of the base that was written for soldiers killed in a battle in Vietnam.
Opportunities to say thank you to veterans can be by a listing on the granite wall individual or family name for a $500 donation, and a corporate or business name for $750.
Walkway opportunities include a 10-by-14 inch granite block for $200, and can include a military emblem; a 6-inch by 9-inch paver for $50; or a 4-inch by 8-inch paver for $40.
The necessary information should include the individual's name, branch of service, dates of service, rank, date of birth, residence at time of induction, and years living in the Palmerton area.
The information should be sent to the Palmerton Legion, P.O. Box 84 Palmerton, Pa 18071, or Palmerton VFW, 2020 Forest Inn Road, Palmerton, Pa 18071.
Moyer said information about the memorial can be viewed on Facebook, under Palmerton Area Servicemen and Women Memorial, and on palmertonuvo.org.
Anyone with questions, or those who want to submit the information, may contact Uhnak at (610) 826-2902, or firstname.lastname@example.org, Moyer at (610) 504-6680, or email@example.com, or Nothstein at (610) 826-7339, or firstname.lastname@example.org.