Honoring Sacrifice: VA Hosts Memorial Day Ceremony
PLAINS TWP. — Korean War veteran Fred Searles has known sacrifice.
He has known it firsthand, as a prisoner of war for 33 months, as well as the sacrifice of his comrades who died in the conflict. When he visits the Wilkes-Barre Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Twp., he sees the echoes of sacrifice in the veterans receiving treatment.
On Memorial Day, he said, people should honor the service members who died in the line of duty.
“They should think of the sacrifices people have made for them,” said Searles, a U.S. Army veteran.
Searles led the Pledge of Allegiance and the POW Pledge of Allegiance at a Memorial Day celebration Friday at the hospital.
In front of the American flag and a beautiful sky, medical center director Russell Lloyd said Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, but he urged people to think of it in another way.
“I ask you not to consider this a day of beaches, barbecues and bargains, but as a solemn day of gratitude,” he said.
The meaning of the day impacts the entire world, Lloyd said.
Attendees heard youth volunteer Madison Dompkosky sing the national anthem and “God Bless America.” The 109th Field Artillery Regiment, of Kingston presented the American flag.
U.S. Rep. Matt Carwright, D-8, Moosic, took to the podium to remember the military veterans who died in the service of their country.
Cartwright recalled trips he had taken with other members of Congress as a member of the Veterans Affairs appropriations subcommittee. In one trip to Asia, he visited a memorial in the Philippines that had the names of service members who were missing in action.
He looked through the names for those of five brothers whose story he knew. It was the story of the five Sullivan brothers, who went down with the U.S.S. Juneau while serving in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The names are just five among the hundreds on the memorial and among the thousands of men and women who died serving their country.
“Too many of them did not return home to their loved ones, which is why this weekend we take time to remember their sacrifices and honor their legacy,” Cartwright said.
“As we move to bridge the political divisions in our nation, days like today give us hope. We are united under the same flag, share the same principles and enjoy the same freedoms that they all fought for and gave their lives for,” he said.
Contact the writer: