World War II veteran Russel L. Kellner, 91, of Tamaqua, was named as this year's Grand Marshal for the Tamaqua American Legion's Annual Memorial Day Parade to be held Monday morning in Tamaqua. Kellner, a 50-year member of both the Tamaqua American Legion Post 173 and AMVETS Post 101, enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served with the 723rd Military Police Battalion and later with the 1536th Engineer Battalion in France and Germany. After the war in Europe, he was transferred to the Pacific theater in the Philippines, where he served as a member of the occupation forces in Osaka, Japan. Kellner, along with his wife of 68 years, Helene, have 2 daughters, 5 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
The parade, which will start staging at 9:30 a.m. between the 700 and 900 block of East Broad Street, will kickoff at 10 a.m. after the rendition of honors at the Veterans Memorial Monument, located next to the former MAFF Motors. The parade, led by the Tamaqua American Legion Color Guard and Grand Marshall Russel Kellner, will then continue west on Broad Street (SR209) and temporarily disband when it reaches Lehigh Street.
Succeeding the parade, residents and visitors are encouraged to follow the parade and it's participants to Soldiers' Circle in the Odd Fellows Cemetery for the Memorial Day Service, which will start at 11 a.m. The service will consist of guest speakers, a firing detail, music by the Tamaqua Raider Marching Band and the playing of Taps.
Durbin Wagner, a resident of Newport and native of Tamaqua, will serve as the program's key speaker. Wagner, an Army veteran, is currently attending West Point Military Academy. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College, a Master of Education from East Stroudsburg and an education degree from Southwestern University. Holding teaching positions in Carlisle, Union County NJ and Tamaqua, Wagner also served as a secondary school administrator in Tamaqua, Minersville, Kutztown, West Perry and West Branch school districts. He is married to the former Judith Garland and is the father of 2 children with 9 grandchildren.
Parade and service participants include the Tamaqua High School Raider Marching Band, Marian High School Marching Band, Tamaqua Borough officials, Poppy Queen (Shaina Ristila), Tamaqua Business and Professional Women's Club Young Woman of the Year (Kayla Hope), Tamaqua Area Fire Companies and Girl and Boy Scout Groups from Tamaqua and West Penn.
Stressing the importance for community to never forget the selfless actions of all our American servicemen and servicewomen, Joel Perry, Commander, Tamaqua American Legion, quoted Calvin Coolidge, America's 30th President, saying, "Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion."