Lansford passes the torch on Memorial Day services
SHERI RYAN/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Troy Margerum, PVHS student, recites "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address" during the Lansford Memorial Day service as Rich Bachman, American Legion Post 123 commander, left, and past commander Richard D. Pogwist, right, looks on.
A small crowd gathered at Kennedy Park to honor the fallen during Monday's Memorial Day service in Lansford.
Richard D. Pogwist, past commander of the Lansford American Legion Post 123, served as the master of ceremonies.
In his address, Pogwist spoke of the first Memorial Day-type observance which was held on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, NY, in which graves of the fallen Civil War soldiers were decorated in honor of their service and sacrifice by the people of Waterloo.
Pogwist explained how the "torch" was passed on to veterans of WW I and II, then to Korean and Vietnam War veterans and now to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. He also asked the people of Lansford to be willing to assume the torch and continue to decorate the graves of the fallen should the younger vets be unable to do so.
He then spoke about the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women and paraphrased John 15:13 by stating, "There is no greater love than to give your life for one another."
"Our fallen comrades have demonstrated that love and that is what Memorial Day is all about," said Pogwist.
Pogwist noted that the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost by the majority of the American people.
"To most Americans, Memorial Day is simply one of the federal holidays that bracket the summer season. Memorial Day for them marks the beginning of summer, the opening of the community swimming pool, the start of a family vacation, the first barbeque of the year or a much needed three day weekend," said Pogwist.
"This Memorial Day we gather on what typically signals the beginning of the summer season, I ask you to stop and remember the real reason for this holiday. On this day we should take time out and pay tribute to the men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. When they fell to preserve our freedom, someone felt a tremendous loss of a parent, child, brother, sister or friend. Moreover, they are citizens of our great land and who gave their lives to preserve the principles upon which our country was founded," he added.
Rick Bachman, commander of Post 123 also addressed the crowd and asked them to "never forget."
He told the story of a Navy corpsman and a Marine who were victims of a detonated mine on July 5, 1970. The corpsman was injured, and the Marine was killed. The Marine, Steve Martel, was laid to rest in Iowa. Over the years, the corpsman has checked up on him from time to time and noted that there were never any flowers on Martel's grave and assumed that his family members must also be deceased.
"And that is why I mention his name at this time right now, and once again I say, never forget," said Bachman.
Bachman also read aloud the names of those veterans who have passed since Memorial Day 2012.
They are: Ronald E. Barkman, John M.Brunda, Barbara Gale, John G. Gurka, Herman Elias, Joseph J. Hebda, Elmore W. Heffelfinger, Joseph Jasikiewicz, Joseph A.karnish, John S. Kocher, Richard K. Krause, George W. Kukol, Sylvester J. Ligenza, Hugh F. Maloy, Jr., Donald L. McLaughlin, Joseph J. Puskar, Robert Spezialetti, Peter J. Stricek and Joseph J. Zuzu.
A $200 check was presented to the Panther Valley High School JROTC by Pogwist. He thanked them for their service during the past 29 years and requested that the Panther Valley school board "(continue) them for another 29 years."
"You people don't know how much this JROTC means to us. For example, they help us so many times at funerals and military services. They present colors for us. They never, ever turn us down when we call upon the Panther Valley JROTC to assist us, " he said.
He also noted how hard they worked recently at the local cemeteries, removing old flags from the graves and placing new ones for the Memorial Day observation. What would have taken the Post two days to complete took only three hours with their assistance.
During the course of the service, members of the Panther Valley High School band, under the direction of Mark Christ, performed several musical selections.
General Logan's Order was read by PVHS student Zach Gilbert, and Flander's Field was read by student and JROTC member Mary Lazar.
PVHS student Troy Margerum recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The Invocation and Benediction were given by Post chaplain, Larry Wagner.
The JROTC firing squad gave a Salute to the Dead as Roxanne Person played Taps.
This was the first year that a parade was not held in Lansford.