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Palmerton speaker: Family events possible because of soldiers’ sacrifices

The first of three summer holidays for Americans, Memorial Day weekend can be a busy time.

As Carbon County Common Pleas Judge Steven Serfass described it, “it’s a long weekend of a people greeting a new summer with all the energies and preferences that characterize their approach to the hardworking days of the year.”

But as Serfass pointed out Monday during the Palmerton United Veterans Organization Memorial Day service in the borough park, the family picnics, swim parties or vacations are all made possible by the sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives in support of their country.

“It was to preserve these things, this lifestyle, that our brave men and women struggled, fought and died for,” Serfass, Palmerton’s guest speaker, said. “They deserve our thoughts, prayers and recognition of the price they paid so we may be free.”

Monday’s activities began with a parade down Delaware Avenue with stops to place wreaths at the Veterans Memorial, the Revolutionary Soldier at the police station, and at the monument at borough hall.

During the service that followed, Joe Uhnak of the Palmerton UVO read the names of 51 local veterans, provided by the two Palmerton funeral homes, who died since last Memorial Day.

UVO members recently placed over 1,700 flags in the cemeteries that dot Palmerton, from Bowmanstown to Trachsville. The members returned to the cemeteries Saturday to perform military honors for those veterans who lie in rest there.

“All of the individuals who have served our country gave some, and some of them gave all,” Bill Gallagher of the Palmerton UVO said. “Some of these men and women gave their life for our freedoms. This is why Memorial Day is set aside to remember and honor them. Without their sacrifice, we may not be able to enjoy this most fantastic day in this beautiful park.”

Three local veterans, including Gary Shinsky, Chip Solt, and Scotty Morrison received Quilts of Valor during the ceremony. The handmade quilts, thanking the veterans for their service, have been given out locally each year since 2017.

Palmerton Mayor Don Herrmann spoke of Lt. William B. Montgomery, a United States Air Force pilot who was killed on June 22, 1944, when the aircraft he was piloting went down near the coast of the United Kingdom.

After nearly 80 years, his remains were identified earlier this year and he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“He was never forgotten,” Herrmann said. “Relatives who never met Montgomery never gave up hope. We never forget those who fought and died for this country. Many families never receive closure and every day is a struggle. To them, I simply say, your father, mother, sister, brother, husband or wife are not forgotten and never will be.”

Emmersyn O’Donnell, 7, of Palmerton Daisy Troop 3112, served as Miss Poppy. Josh Tobia filled in his brother Luka Tobia of Cub Scout Pack 209, as the Palmerton American Legion Mascot respectively.

The two led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance to kick off Monday’s service.

Palmerton Area High School was well represented during Monday’s service as members of its marching band performed several patriotic selections and junior Maddie Everett recited “In Flanders Field.”

“The brave men and women we honor today left behind loving families to serve our country in a time of need,” Serfass, who has been on the bench in Carbon County for 14 years, said. “We remember and reflect on the ideals that our servicemen and women stood for and died defending. They died so we could live in freedom and continue to cherish the things they held dear; God, country, community and family.”

Chip Solt of Palmerton, who served as a corporal in the United States Marine Corps, receives a Quilt of Valor during Monday's Memorial Day program in Palmerton. See a photo gallery at tnonline.com. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS
Steven Serfass, a Carbon County Common Pleas judge, addresses the crowd during Monday's Memorial Day program in Palmerton. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS
Members of the Palmerton United Veterans Organization pause on Delaware Avenue during Monday's Memorial Day parade. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS