The Rev. James Robison Jr. of Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, Slatedale, gave the reason for the Memorial Day service held at the Slatedale Cemetery as being "for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice."
In the opening prayer he said, "We gather here mindful of Your presence in our lives. As we gather today make known to our hearts the many who have died in defense of our country."
Allen O. Delke Post 16, American Legion performed a memorial ceremony with an 18-gun salute. Memorial Day Committee President Dennis Ziegler, near the end of his talk, said, "Let us pledge our lives anew to patriotic life …. Emulate their faithful service."
"Taps" was played by Marc Beleno and Nathaniel Csarnecki.
The combined choirs of Holy Trinity Lutheran, Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, St. Peter's United Methodist and Salem United Methodist churches sang "America, Our Home." It began with "America our land … We honor our flag of red white and blue" and then switched into "America the Beautiful."
Robison said he couldn't help but notice how beautiful the cemetery is. It has changed as everything does. There is a person who took this place to heart. This service is dedicated to David Kern.
Brenda Blose said Kern was a member of the cemetery board and when it became an Association rather than associated with one church, he participated in that. Kern passed away in November after more than 50 years of service to the cemetery - a job he took over from his grandfather, William Foulke.
He was responsible for having the American Legion and Boy Scouts participate in the Memorial Day service, and was the first to suggest solos be part of it.
"May he continue to be blessed as he looks down on this service," said Robison.
The Rev. Henry Distler Jr. of St. John's United Church of Christ, Slatington, gave the address.
He said he shouldn't be there because he was never in the military. In the 1960s numbers were chosen by lottery for the draft. His number was chosen but he was never called. He told God alternatively he would be a teacher or preacher.
For 34 years he taught school and later the Lord reminded him he promised would be a preacher.
My nephew came to live with us. I said there were no jobs around here so he should go in the military. Pete signed up for the Navy. Distler asked the recruiter if he could go too, but was told he was too old.
In 1866 people took a push mower and flowers to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers.
"People say, 'Lord, I will lay down my life for you.' Look around you. It's an easy thing to say but difficult to do. As we look around we see there are many people who gave for us. They gave for us and some gave their all," said Distler.
In Nov. 6, 1916, soldiers kept diaries and from one diary we see that Ted Strack has been killed. Thank God for every remembrance of him. As we grieve we cling to those who are in heaven, Distler said.
Look at the graves. The American Legion placed 2,500 flags on veterans' graves in our area. That's quite a feat. Look also at the gravestones in honor of those who have gone before us. Distler read a poem, "How Do We Live the Dash."
The dash refers to the time between birth and death as found on gravestones. "What matters is how we live and love and how you lived that dash," he said.
"We have time to change, time to act," Distler said.
He was irate when he saw a business in Florida with a sign out front that said the owner would rather serve 1,000 terrorists than one American soldier, but then he noticed it was in front of a funeral home and was happy.
For those who were there, for those who fought no explanation is necessary. For those who were not there no explanation is possible.
Robison asked members of the various services to stand: Marines, Air Force, Navy, Reserves, Coast Guard - to all of you, those gathered and those who cannot be here, we thank you, he said.
Victoria Lear, a Northern Lehigh sixth grader, sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "How Great Thou Art." She also sang with the combined choir.