American Legion honors deceased veterans during 93rd cemetery tour
Caleb, 2-1/2, and Ethan, 5, stand with their grandmother, Karlene Laub, at Friedens Church.
"Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky; all is well, safely rest, God is nigh." The music that goes with these familiar words from "Taps" ended the memorial ceremony at each cemetery on the tour held to honor deceased veterans by the American Legion, Allen O. Delke Post 16, Slatington.
Accompanying the Legion members are the Sons of the American Legion and the Legion Riders. They visited nine cemeteries on May 26. They were joined by members of the churches where the cemeteries are located.
Mark Queen carried the United States flag, Brian Roberts had the American Legion flag and Bruce Roberts carried one for the Sons of the American Legion. With Sunday's wind the flags waved beautifully.
Charles Rowlands and Donald Leikel handed flags to each of the young children attending.
At the Seventh Street Catholic Cemetery, Slatington, Dennis Ziegler, president of the Memorial Day committee, said, "Again our nation has assembled to honor its heroic dead. A thousand battles of land and sea and air echo their valiant deeds. Under the quiet sod or beneath the murmuring waves their bodies sleep in peace. But in the destinies of men, their souls go marching on.
"No weariness of march and watch could keep them from their heart's desire. No horror of the field or sea or air could beat their courage down. They fought for us, for us they fell. Now with one accord in deepest reverence we do them honor. Let us not remember them in anguish, they would not want our pity."
Gordon Giannotti gave the commands for a rifle salute and Nathaniel Czarnecki and Marc Beleno played "Taps," echoing it from opposite ends of the line.
At the Union Cemetery a wreath was laid on the grave of Allen O. Delke, for whom the American Legion Post was named. He was a private of Co. I, 314th Infantry. Born May 30, 1887, he was killed in France on Nov. 2, 1918, just before World War I ended.
Ziegler said, "Let us grasp with fearless hands, the flag so nobly borne before, and like those others, plant it always on the battlements of righteousness."
At Friedens Cemetery one of the Legion Riders, Wayne Knirnschild, said, "This is where we belong on this day."
Ziegler said, "The whole world, because of what they did, is in debt to them. Let us pledge anew to patriotic service. Let us make ourselves the friend and brother, son and father, daughter and mother of those who will not see their own again in mortal flesh."
The Rev. Lunnette Hilliard had prepared a prayer for the Legionaires and members of the church.
It said, "When the need was greatest, they stepped forward and did their duty to defend the freedoms that we enjoy, and to win the same for others.
"O God, you yourself have taught us that no love is greater than that which gives itself for another. These honored dead gave the most precious gift they had, life itself, for comrades and country and for us."
"The firing squad will now salute the dead and the buglers will play 'Taps,'" said Ziegler.
At United Presbyterian Church, Slatington, Chad Fritz, an E5 Sgt. of the 91st Infantry Battalion, an active duty soldier at Fort Drum, N.Y., attended the ceremony with his wife and children: Arianna, Corbin, Landon and Lukas Fritz
Also in uniform was retired Master Sgt. Robert Weaver who belonged to the Veterans of the Vietnam War when he lived in Clarks Summit. He was in Europe in 1953 during the World War II occupation, served two tours in Vietnam and retired in 1972. He served 10-1/2 years in Germany, was in Tehran, Persia (Iran), during the time of the Shah and in Thailand for a total of a little over 20 years.