Lehighton honors veterans and those who gave their lives
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS The main keynote speaker at the Lehighton Cemetery was Lt. Col. John O'Boyle, Deputy Commander, 213 ASG, Pa. Army National Guard, standing at the podium. Seated at left is Donald Rehrig, mayor of Lehighton; and seated right is, James Wentz, UVO chaplain; and right standing is Harry J. Wynn III, master of ceremonies.
Lehighton United Veterans Organization honored veterans, active military and those who gave their lives for freedom throughout the Memorial Day weekend.
Services were held in nine rural cemeteries on Sunday and throughout Lehighton on Monday. On Sunday the West Group was directed by Harry J. Wynn III, Past Post Commander; and the East Group was directed by Kevin Long, American Legion Past Post Commander.
After hosting Memorial Day services at six locations in Lehighton on Monday, the two units combined to form a parade that went through Lehighton, concluding with services at the Lehighton Cemetery. Taking part in the services were the Army National Guard, Lehighton UVO, Lehighton American Legion, VFW members, Legion Auxiliary, Boy Scouts, Lehighton Band, Lehighton Boys and Girls Band and student and adult speakers.
The main keynote speaker was Lt. Col. John O'Boyle, Deputy Commander, 213 ASG, Pa. Army National Guard.
Wynn was the master of ceremonies and Mayor Donald Rehrig gave the welcoming remarks.
Rehrig began his talk by thanking all veterans for serving the country and asking everyone to show them they care and appreciates what they did.
"Today, make an effort to shake the hand of a veteran and thank them for serving our country," said Rehrig. "It's the least we can do to show them that we care and appreciate what they have done for us."
Rehrig said that as everyone gathers with family and friends, they should never forget the brave individuals who answered the call to serve during the nation's hour of need.
"Today we place flags on the graves of the fallen and pay silent tribute to those who went well beyond the call of duty to preserve the values of the United States of America."
Rehrig said that everyone must reflect on what it truly means to live in freedom.
"It means not being afraid to walk out your front door," he said. "It means being able to choose your line of work, what church you will attend or the activities you enjoy doing, among so many other freedoms."
Rehrig concluded with, "We owe all of our veterans, past, present and future, a debt of gratitude for their sacrifices in the defense of liberty. It is our duty to keep the memory alive for those who made the ultimate sacrifice."
O'Boyle said that he was honored to be have been given the opportunity to say a few words today at a service which honors American service men and women who have not only died in the service of our country but also all those who have passed later in life.
"These are men and women who served the nation both in war time and those whose presence in peace time deterred conflict," said Boyle. "I believe that it is appropriate that we meet in this cemetery to honor the memories of our veterans."
O'Boyle said that he and his family walk through the cemeteries in Hamburg where he lives and read the names of people who lived in our town a long time ago.
"In one of the cemeteries in Hamburg there is a veteran of the revolutionary war," said O'Boyle. "I always tell my daughter that people live on when you go through a cemetery, read their names and the dates they lived. I tell her that her grandchildren will know her grandparents through her and, in that way, their memory lives on."
O'Boyle said that we are here to honor those veterans who are buried here and honor their memory and their lives. In this cemetery, there are many veterans from most of America's conflicts as well as those who served during peacetime.
O'Boyle then relayed the history of Memorial Day and how Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day through the years until 1971 when Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.