They protect us, whether in peacetime, or time of war.
It's only fair and just, then, that those special warriors be recognized for their acts of heroism, much as they were at the annual Palmerton Memorial Day Parade on Sunday.
The parade was again sponsored by the United Veteran's Organization of Palmerton, which is comprised of the American Legion Post 269 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7134.
It 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.
Among the parade participants were Ella Cronk, a fourth-grade student at S.S. Palmer Elementary who served as Miss Poppy; Adrian Holthausen, a fifth-grade student at Towamensing Elementary 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.
Steve Vlossak, a member of the United Veteran's Organization of Palmerton, announced that the guest speaker for this year's event was Command Sergeant Major Daniel A Dailey, Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Mayor Brad Doll said the day wasn't just to remember those who are no longer with us, or those who continue to serve our country.
"On Memorial Day, try to remember the ones standing next to you now," Doll said. "When you see a veteran, shake their hand; I'm sure it means a lot to them."
Doll then presented a certificate to fire company, ambulance, and police department members in attendance.
Ed Moyer, commander of American Legion Post 269, spoke about the veterans' memorial the PUVO and the borough plan to build in the borough park as a tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who served to preserve our freedom.
Moyer thanked all the veterans, as well as businesses and others who made donations. To date, $148,000 has been collected, said Moyer, who added that there are over 3,600 names to place, and over 600 pavers to put in the walkways.
The memorial will be located on a section of land 40 feet by 60 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.
To qualify, veterans need not have seen action in wartime. Peacetime veterans will also be honored.
Moyer said May 31 is the deadline for names to be recognized on the bricks and pavers for the walkway. Anyone who submits information after May 31 will be placed on the memorial at a later date.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial will be held Saturday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m. with a rain date of Saturday, Aug. 18. The dedication for the memorial will be held on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, from noon to 2 p.m.
Peter Holthausen, commander of VFW Post 7134, reminded those in attendance that the day was about more than just cookouts, and encouraged them to give a salute to all veterans.
It was then time for Dailey, a 1990 graduate of Palmerton Area High School who enlisted in the Army in 1989, to speak.
Dailey, who serves in the top advisory position at the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, said he was proud of his hometown for the effort they put forth each year to conduct Memorial Day services.
He then told the audience he wanted to give a "history lesson of what we're observing."
Dailey noted that the holiday initially was recognized as Decoration Day. Gen. John Logan issued a proclamation that Decoration Day should be observed nationwide, and it was observed for the first time on May 30, 1868.
The holiday was eventually recognized as Memorial Day, but was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. In 1971, Memorial Day was moved from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday of May.
Dailey said he can "personally assure" that the young people being trained are among the nation's "brightest and best."
He then asked the crowd to say a prayer for each of our brothers and sisters, and said it was hope that those who watch out for our lives be watched over.
As a symbol to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, Dailey then presented a flag from Baghdad, Iraq, on behalf of the U.S. Army, to the town of Palmerton.
Dailey said the flag was a testimonial to those who served, continue to serve, and will continue to serve, our country. Anyone in attendance who wished to touch the flag was asked to come forward.
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.
Vlossak 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.
Al Kohler, of American Legion Post 269, gave the invocation. Music was provided by the Holy Trinity Church of Palmerton Bell Choir, which performed two songs, as well as St. Johns Towamensing Lutheran Church Choir, which led the national anthem and also performed two songs.
Monica Handwerk, a senior at Palmerton Area High School, read "Flanders Field".
Kohler then read off a list of the 57 veterans buried at the two funeral homes in Palmerton since last Memorial Day.