YOUR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE
Mahanoy Area students honor veterans with special program
MAHANOY CITY — Veterans were praised and applauded Friday by the Mahanoy Area student body at a special Veterans Day program.
The morning program was held in the Mickey Holland Gymnasium after veterans were treated to a free breakfast in the large group instruction room. From there, the veterans walked outside to the gym on walkways lined with American flags.
The gym was filled with more than 1,000 students as the veterans marched into the gym to patriotic music performed by the high school band under the direction of Allison Kline. Boy Scout Troop 725 led the veterans and presented the colors. The Rev. Fred T. Crawford provided the invocation and spoke of walking among the war memorials during visits to Washington, D. C., including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The moderator was senior Cody Palubinsky.
“There was time to search for names of people I knew from my hometown, from my college days, names of people that were inscribed in the panels of t he Vietnam Memorial,” Crawford said. “But the dozen or so names that I know personally is a tiny percentage of the 58,315 inscribed there. In the early morning there is time to look into the faces of the 19 stainless steel statues that represent the squad on patrol somewhere near the 38th Parallel in Korea. And there is time to absorb the absolute enormity of the World War II Memorial and what it represented, not just for our nation but for our world. Those memorials are a reminder, and unfortunately additional memorials will someday need to be built because men and women today still continue to serve in places across the globe, serving our nation and protecting our freedom.”
The welcome to the veterans was offered by student council President Colin Fegley.
“Veterans, thank you for your service and sacrifice,” Fegley said. “I would like to thank everyone for attending this morning’s program as we recognize true American patriots. In our presence today are real- life heroes for their unyielding service to America. Across this great country and throughout the world, America will pause this Sunday to honor our brave service men and women, past and present, who for more than 242 years have secured our freedom through their duty, honor and selfless service to our country. We recognize that all of our veterans have sacrificed and given of themselves for this great nation. We also acknowledge those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives to defend this nation, its people, and the liberties and freedoms that we hold so dear.”
Fegley called for a moment of silence for those who gave their lives in the line of duty.
“We cannot do enough to repay the awesome debt we owe to the countless number of American veterans who chose to set aside their personal ambitions, their lives and their dreams to assure the well- being of our great nation,” Fegley said.
Opening remarks were made by Vietnam War veteran Louis Huber, who is the chairman of the Memorial Day Parade Committee.
“This is great. We have a lot of good people in here,” Huber said. “It’s amazing. Just the respect that we got here and being honored like this is just too much. To all the veterans here, I’d like to thank them.”
The main speaker was Daniel Lynch, Barnesville, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He is the Hazleton city director of administration and former Mahanoy City borough manager. Lynch thanked everyone in the school district for recognizing and honoring veterans and the service they gave while in uniform.
“The appreciation you’ve shown us means an incredible amount to the men and women who served this country ,” Lynch said. “Thank you for taking that time to show appreciation to the men and women who put their time and lives on the line without the promise of that appreciation. They did it for love of country and that’s an important thing. It’s important that we have citizens who are willing to put their lives on the line in the name of freedom, because freedom can’t stand up without people willing to do that. For freedom to exist it needs those who are willing to stand up. Veterans make incredible sacrifices.”
Lynch said there are certain qualities that define a veteran. They are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
“It comes down to a love of country, a love of freedom, and a love of justice,” Lynch said. “The men and women before you, and all the men and women who are veterans, do this without the promise of appreciation or recognition, as I said. That is why your efforts are so important and so very much appreciated.”
The band performed the “Ar med Forces March,” which was followed by the chorus singing “God Bless the USA.”
Huber gave the closing remarks, asking the veterans to rise and be recognized by everyone. When they rose, the students, faculty and administration gave them a long and loud standing ovation.
“That’s a lot of respect and a lot of love,” Huber said.
The program ended with the Boy Scouts retiring the colors, with the next stop at the Veterans Memorial at Centre and Catawissa streets. The veterans gathered at the memorial and watched as the school band and students marched to the location. Mahanoy Area United Veterans President David Bickowski directed the short event that included a patriotic song by the band, the placing of the wreath at the memorial, a rifle salute by the honor guard and the playing of taps by Mahanoy Area sophomore Noah Karnish.
The United Veterans will conduct a Veterans Day program at the memorial at 11 a. m. Sunday.
TOP: From left, Army veteran Ray Kostick, Mahanoy City, Air Force veteran Robert Ackell, Frackville, and Air Force veteran Louis Getz, New Boston, place their hand over their heart while the national anthem is played by the school band.
ABOVE: Colin Fegley, student council president, observes a moment of silence with the crowd during the Veterans Day program Friday at the Mahanoy Area Education Complex in Mahanoy City.
Coast Guard and Army veteran Louis Huber, Mahanoy City, adjusts a wreath at the Veterans Memorial during the Veterans Day program in Mahanoy City.
Dave Holman, assistant principal at Mahanoy Area High School and head football coach, right, shakes hands with Army veteran Francis Chesko, 94, of Mahanoy City, during a breakfast Friday at the school before a Veterans Day program at the Mahanoy Area Education Complex in Mahanoy City. Chesko served in World War II.