Panther Valley Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps raised the American flag at the Coaldale Complex this week as an audience of veterans, their families and fellow cadets looked on.
The ceremony included a poem written by JROTC cadet Natasha Scerbo, a reading of the history of the American flag by Cadet Brooke Turner, and the placement of red roses before a photo of Mary Nesterak, the mother of Norman Nesterak of Coaldale, who died in the Vietnam War. Mary is Coaldale's last surviving Gold Star Mother.
Under the direction of Major Kenneth Markovich, the cadets, including Platoon Leader Roxanne Person and Battalion Executive Officer Ashlee Miller, assisted by Army Instructor Sgt. First Class Joseph Jordan, hoisted the flag as Cadet Colin Johnson played the trumpet.
Afterward, Cadet Pvt. Michael Scotto led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cadet Scerbo read Edward Guest's poem, "Our Duty to Our Flag," and Cadet Sgt. Turner read about the history of the American flag.
Navy Veteran William Gaddes spoke about the importance of honoring and remembering Vietnam War veterans, who came home from battle to derision and hostility, but nonetheless went on to work hard, raise families and contribute to society.
Afterward, red roses were placed on a small table before Mary Nesterak's photograph. Nesterak was unable to attend the ceremony, but a rose was placed in her honor by Betty Hoffman, who was Norman's mother-in-law., Hoffman's son, Ken, is also a veteran.
AMVETS Post #1, McAdoo, Adjutant Tom Mattie and First Vice Commander Anthony Mussoline also placed roses, as did Jordan.