Memorial Day perspectives shared at Summit Hill service
William K. O'Donnell, at podium, commander of the Summit Hill American Legion Post, serves as emcee during Memorial Day service in Summit Hill's Ludlow Park. Looking on are, l-r, Perry Shelton, a Vietnam War veteran who was parade grand marshall and who tolled the bell signalling the start of the borough's huge parade; State Representative Doyle Heffley, and guest speaker John McFadden of Washington D.C., a retired army lieutenant colonel who is a native of Summit Hill.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John McFadden yesterday told of several perspectives about Memorial Day changed with him over the years, and one consistent theme remained the same.
McFadden, a native of Summit Hill who now resides in Washington D.C., was the keynote speaker during the Memorial Day service held yesterday morning in Summit Hill's Ludlow Park.
Several hundred people attended the service, during which William K. O'Donnell, commander of the Summit Hill American Legion Post 316, served as master of ceremonies.
Those perspectives, said the speaker, are:
• 1. Learning about sacrifice.
He explained that in 1968, while a sophomore in high school, he learned about the death of George Bevich, who was killed in Vietnam. Bevice had been a resident of Summit Hill.
He said, "I was 15 years old and not unfamiliar with death sincy my grandfather was a mortician. It was not the same. Until then, everyone I knew that died was old through the eyes of an adolescent. Georgie was just a few years older than me and he wasn't coming home.
• 2. Comrades lost.
He told about three comrades of his who were among the 23 soldiers killed in the Somalia raid of 1993.
• 3. Loss of children.
He told about hearing of the death of A. J. Baddick, of Jim Thorpe, who died in Iraq at the age of 26 on Sept. 30, 2003. He said he didn't know Baddick, but he did know his parents, who had been classmates of his and fellow graduates of the Marian High School Class of 1970.
• 4. Cost of victory, price of success.
McFadden was in Pakistan and about to enter Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2003, when the Twin Towers were hit by terrorists. He said 10 years later, Osama bin Laden was killed.
"A long term objective had been achieved and the cost was 1,140 American lives. Victory does not come cheap and the price of freedom is often paid in the blood of our military."
The one consistence, he said, "is the courage of American warriors to put themselves in harms' way in any place, at any time, against any foe. It's their willingess to spill their blood to ensure that America remaisn free."
The POW/MIA ceremony and welcome was given by Mayor Paul R. McArdle Sr. of Summit Hill.
Panther Valley High School students who gave readings were Amber Guzman, Courtney Lazar, and Patrick Iezzoni. All are members of the high school JROTC.
The roll call of deceased veterans was Gregory Miller, chaplain of Post 316.
Kiley Boswell, 12, sang the National Anthem.
The invocation and benediction was offered by Minister Burgess Gorden of the United Methodist Church, who also told the gathering that several years ago, he experienced the death of a son killed while serving in the military.