“Here comes the parade,” one youthful voice announced at the start of the 62nd annual Memorial Day parade and program for Bethel and Tulpehocken Townships.
And indeed the parade, and remembrance for and of all veterans for this year, began in Frystown with a township police car; Parade Marshall Donald Daub, a veteran from Bethel; the Color Guard and Veterans; followed by the Tulpehocken Jr./Sr. High School Marching Band.
And of course there were the day’s speakers, the Master of Ceremonies, fire trucks from Frystown, Bethel, Rehrersburg, Mt. Aetna, Bernville and Little Kunkletown, complete with volunteers in dress uniform and patriotic floral arrangements adorning some of the vehicles. Special cars and local groups as well as miscellaneous entries and adult marchers, with the Bethel Ambulance bringing up the guarding end, ended the parade with the memorial assemblage held at the cemetery at the Conservative Baptist Brethren Church in Frystown.
Frystown Fire Chief, Lee V. Groff, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Memorial service. It began with the Tulpehocken Band playing the Star-Spangled Banner and a Scripture Reading and opening prayer by Pastor Larry Longenecker of Host Church in Bernville.
“Thank you for a day set apart, not just for celebration, but also for solemn remembrance as we consider the sacrifices of so many in our military,” were among his words.
“We pray today for the families and friends of those who have given their lives in service to our nation.”
Emma Book, Bethel Elementary 6th grader, followed the Pledge of Allegiance by reading “Freedom is not Free,” by Kelly Strong, with the band then playing, “God Bless America.”
Command Major Scott M. Hentz, with the 728th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, a Myerstown native, gave the Memorial Day address.
Telling all that Memorial Day matters, he spoke of the Gold Star families and reminded his attentive listeners that at 3 p.m. there would be the National Moment of Remembrance.
Fire Chief Groff read just one name for the Last Roll Call, that of Marvin C. Kauffman, who died Oct. 4, 2013, at the age of 86. Kauffman was an Air Force veteran who served in WWII. He is at rest at Trinity UCC cemetery in Rehrersburg.
The American Legion and the VFW led the Solemn Commemoration, complete with salute, firing squad, and Taps sending its emotional meaning wafting across the town.
Pastor Longenecker gave the benediction and closing prayer, asking that our service men and women be held in God’s strong arms and that “the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day ...”
“Let our military brothers and sister feel our love and support,” he added.
A social time followed at the fire hall for the celebration of the day, but for one visitor, it was the service at the cemetery that was the “meat” of the day.
“I found it moving, in the sense that it made me think of how they, the veterans, had given of themselves for me and for others.”