Parade, ceremony honor those who died in the military
ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS On a 2-1/2 ton truck stage Dennis Ziegler, president of the Memorial Day committee of the American Legion Post 16, watches as Slatington Mayor Walter Niedermeyer speaks. The Rev. Kevin Fruchtl of New Tripoli provided the prayers and Col. David J. Griffith, retired, US Army, was the speaker.
David Carroll, director of the Northern Lehigh High School Band, led the band in a selection of songs as the annual Memorial Day service was held in Fairview Cemetery, Slatington, on May 27. It is held in Fairview and Union cemeteries switching back and forth each year for the 93rd consecutive time.
After completing the list of cemeteries, begun a day earlier, where American Legion Allen O. Delke Post 16 performs an honoring service, they returned to the Post and participated in Slatington's Memorial Day parade. The parade ended at Fairview where the Post's 2-1/2 ton military truck was being used as a stage.
In a bit of serendipity a small plane flew over the cemetery and added an unscheduled flyover to the ceremony.
The Rev. Kevin Fruchtl of Ebenezer Church, New Tripoli, said Memorial Day is the day to open the pool and to have a picnic. It is a day of celebration of our freedom.
But it is so much more. We remember those who gave us that freedom.
Slatington's mayor, Walter Niedermeyer, began by saying the Civil War was more than any other war with the largest number of dead. At 3 p.m. there will be a national moment of remembrance.
Look at all the flags and remember, Stars and Stripes forever, he said.
Fruchtl prayed, " As we gather we remember those who gave their lives, and those whose bodies or minds are damaged, who missed the family milestones. We have the opportunity to choose how we use that freedom - to vote, to serve the country and to strengthen the nation."
Colonel David L. Griffith, retired, United States Army, was introduced by Dennis Ziegler, president of the American Legion Memorial Day committee.
In June 1973 he joined the Army after graduating from West Point Military Academy. His degree was in general engineering. He served in several positions in Germany and then joined military intelligence. He was a member of the Pa. Army National Guard in Scranton and worked with a transportation battalion out of Philadelphia. He became an executive officer of the the support command.
During his service he earned many medals including the Legion of Merit. Griffith lives in Lowhill Township and is a member of American Legion Post 16.
He said Memorial Day is not to be a day of solemn mourning but to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War, and now in all wars. Arlington Cemetery is decorated with a flag on each grave as are countless cemeteries world wide.
These soldiers have a common bond with today's soldiers: Loyalty, duty, respect and selfless service, said Griffith.
We are all touched by service and remember the families of the missing and the Gold Star Mothers. I ask you to remember the missing. You have heard the statement, "I will never leave a fallen comrade behind."
It is more than a day to remember. We have to strengthen ourselves for what is ahead. Though resilient, we have to meet the challenge of war. Terror won't rest.
"Let this Memorial Day be a rebirth to our commitment to freedom, to celebrate liberty, love and life," Griffith said.
The Quartet of Five sang "God Bless the USA" with its words, "I won't forget the men who died to give that right to me." It was followed by "This Land Is Your Land."
The audience joined the high school band to sing the "Star Spangled Banner."
The Benediction ended the ceremony: "May Your blessing be upon all those who are separated from their family today."
The ceremony the Legion had held at 12 sites was performed with Ziegler reading the message, a firing squad salute and the playing of "Taps."