In what proved to be an impressive show of solidarity, members of the Carbon County Veterans Council converged on the Palmerton Veterans Memorial, Palmerton Town Green, Delaware Avenue, for a "Show of Patriotism" rally on Saturday.
Several veterans organizations, primarily from Palmerton, Lehighton, Jim Thorpe, the Carbon County Navy Club, as well as a few others, were present with uniforms, hats, and flags.
Harry J. Wynn III, senior vice commander of the American Legion 30th District in Carbon County, said, "We're here today on behalf of the Carbon County Veterans Council to rally to support our troops, our veterans, and especially those in the military today," Wynn said. "We feel it's the right thing to do."
Wynn said he was especially disheartened with how veterans were treated at their memorial during the recent government shutdown.
"Our World War II veterans were locked out of their monument; they were not allowed to go in," he said. "It was disturbing not only to me, but should be to all of our veterans."
Wynn added "I find it disgraceful, reprehensible, that our government didn't allow our World War II veterans to see their memorial."
The group was also upset that the "27 heroes" from our military who were killed overseas during the shutdown were not able to have anyone from their families there to welcome them when their bodies were returned, Wynn said.
"We're here to say we're not going to take it no more," he said.
Wynn then alluded to the one million people who gathered in downtown Boston, and referred to it as, "An outstanding show of the human will; especially those of us as American citizens."
Henry Desrosiers, director of Carbon County Veterans Affairs, said he is, "Extremely proud of our veterans organizations here in Carbon County."
Desrosiers said, "We all took an oath when we first entered the service to protect our country, and we did that." He added that as veterans, "We do have a voice, and we will use it when we have to."
At that, Desrosiers offered a reminder that this is election week, and that it is our right to vote however we best see fit.
Wynn then asked those in attendance to, "Show our support for our veterans and our military. We love our veterans and our military."
Wynn stated that the rally served as the kick off for several upcoming Veterans Day activities: A Veterans Day program will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Josiah White Park in Jim Thorpe; the Law Offices of William G. Schwab and Associates will prepare wills, living wills and power of attorney, to all veterans at the Lehighton American Legion Post 314, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; and the Carbon County Veterans Day Parade will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in Lehighton.
After the rally, several veterans shared their thoughts on the event.
Among those were Jay Barry, Major Gen., retired, of Lehighton, who thanked the CC Veterans Council for staging the rally, which he said was well attended.
Barry said the government shutdown was a political decision, and that it's important for veterans to come together and have their voices be heard.
Kevin "Spike Long, president of the Lehighton United Veterans Organization, said the purpose of the rally was to show support for our veterans to let them know that we are here for them, and about being united and together.
Francis O'Donnell, a member of the American Legion Post 304 in Jim Thorpe, said that he is somewhat perturbed that the younger generation is not getting involved, but added that he was proud to see the turnout at the rally.
Scott Reinhart, Commander, Carbon County Navy Club, said it's important for the community to know how important veterans are in the everyday activities of their communities.
Veteran Bob Marzen, of Jim Thorpe, said he thinks it's good to get the veterans together to show a sign of solidarity.
Joe Uhnak, first vice commander, American Legion Post 269 of Palmerton, said he was glad to see so many veterans gather to protest the recent government shutdown.
Before the rally, non-veteran Calianna Smale, 2, of Palmerton, could be heard telling those in attendance, "Stop. Put your hand on your heart."
Afterward, Calianna said to the veterans, "Thank you guys."