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Slatington Legion sponsors parade, Memorial Day service at Union Cemetery

  • Reenactors of the 26th Cavalry, 12th Phillipine Division joined the Slatington Memorial Day parade.
    Reenactors of the 26th Cavalry, 12th Phillipine Division joined the Slatington Memorial Day parade.
Published May 31. 2012 05:01PM

Memorial Day was as busy as Sunday had been for the Allen O. Delke Post 16, American Legion. It paid one more church visit, which was to Washington Catholic, and then went to Slatedale to help with their ceremony. The last stop before returning to the Post to organize a parade was at the covered bridge over Trout Creek in Slatington.

The parade marched up the hill to Union Cemetery led by the Color Guard and followed by reenactors of the 26th Cavalry, 12th Phillipine Division.

They represented World War II. There were military vehicles, scouts and Slatington Mayor Walter Niedermeyer, among others.

The Northern Lehigh Band under the direction of David Carroll played several numbers. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the audience joined the band in "God Bless America."

U.S. Army Chaplain M. Dwight Sweezy gave the invocation asked God to watch over the congregation as it pays tribute to the valiant brothers and sisters. "Give courage and comfort to those who have lost someone through war. We pray for the welfare of our fellow soldiers."

Slatington Mayor Walter Niedermeyer welcomed what he termed a "good crowd. It is time to pause and consider a national reverence for those who died, ignored by too many."

He said Allen O. Delke Post 16 has been observing Memorial Day for 92 consecutive years. Flags were to be flown at halfstaff until noon. At 3 p.m. people should pause to think of the meaning. "Remember the 'memorial' in Memorial Day," he concluded.

Eastern Vice Commander Mark Queen was introduced.

President of the Memorial Day committee Dennis Ziegler introduced Robert Shalala, past department commander, Pa. American Legion.

He is a life member of Post 925, Philadelphia; was in the Navy for four years and joined the Philadelphia police where he worked in community relations and the Police Athletic League. He worked with Boy Scouts.

He began with a loud "Hello Slatington" and received an equally loud "Hello Philadelphia" in return

"Slatington is one of the best areas of the state. It is a special day not only for those who wear uniforms but those who gave their lives," Shalala said.

A past commander told him the important word is "saved": S for serving, A for American, V for veterans, E for Every and D for Day.

He told of two Marines in Iraq. A truck loaded with explosives headed to the base. The Iraq police fled but the two Marines died in the blast still firing at the truck.

"I've had to stand my ground as a policeman in Philadelphia. We have more crime in the City of Brotherly Love. I've been to too many funerals for people who have given their lives to protect others.

"General John Kelly knows of great sacrifice. His son Robert Kelly was killed in Afghanistan. They die not just for their country but for their comrades."

He said Operation Comfort Warriors begun by Post 500 gives gifts to hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Shalala is amazed at the science that can give arms or legs to those who lost them.

He quoted from Shakespeare's "Henry V" - We few, we happy few, a band of brothers because whoever shed blood for me is my brother."

Five million people have served since the Revolutionary War for God, country and family. Though observances are happening across America there can never be too many. Service takes us back to our roots, he said.

Philadelphia no longer has a big parade but there are small ones in the local communities, but things can be made better.

The first Memorial Day was in 1865 in Charlestown, S.C., with freed slaves and soldiers as a day of reconciliation. The first official one was held in 1866 in Waterloo, N.Y., and was known as Decoration Day - a day to honor soldiers. May 30 was chosen because there had not been a major battle on that day.

If the soldiers who died had one thing to say, it would be "Take care of my family," Shalala said. The last words of many are "Tell my (wife-mom-dad) I love them."

The band played as the audience sang the "Star Spangled Banner." The Quartet of Five sang "America Our Heritage" which beautifully told of the physical aspects of the country and then sang the military anthems.

Mark Queen and Charles Rowland placed a wreath on the grave of Allen O. Delke, born May 30, 1887 - killed in France in 1918.

The Legion performed its memorial service as it had on many other cemeteries that weekend and "Taps" was played by Nathaniel Csarnecki nd Marc Beleno.

In the audience was Dean "Chubby" Cunfer who said he attended all the Memorial Day services since he was released from service at age 22 in 1955. He has also received a certificate for voting for 50 consecutive years.

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