Morgantown American Legion celebrates Community Day

Members of the Morgantown American Legion Post 537, (L to R) Randy Moore, Mark Greath, Chris Good, Rich Williams and Hank Hartz, line up for the dedication of a plaque and tree honoring their former post commander, the late Sherman (Jake) Ewing, in a ceremony on Community Day, July 12, at their post on Twin Valley Road. Photo by Lori Hevalow
This tree was planted in memory of the late Sherman (Jake) Ewing, former commander of Morgantown American Legion Post 537. Photo by Lori Hevalow

What’s summer without a yummy clambake, some hip outdoor music and cold drinks?

Saturday, July 12, Morgantown American Legion Post 537 invited the community to celebrate Community Day at their Post on Twin Valley Road in Morgantown.

It also marked the dedication of a memorial marker and tree for former Post Commander Sherman (Jake) Ewing, who served the post for six years.

With a large group of people gathered near the newly planted tree and engraved marker, the youngest member of the Sons of the American Legion, Ian Moore, spoke.

“We dedicate this tree and marker to Sherman (Jake) Ewing, our past post commander,” he said. “Nothing was too much trouble for him. We will always remember him. He is now at this post everlasting.”

These, along with Moore’s other words, memorialized the dedicated post commander.

Commander of the Sons of the American Legion Mark Greath said, “This is a special day for a special man.”

Taps were played and a moment of silence marked the ceremony, which was followed by a salute from all the members to the memory of Ewing.

Community Day is important, post members emphasized. It reflects the mission of Post 537’s philanthropic outreach to their community, both local and national.

They primarily exist to remember and serve their military brothers and sisters. This is the place to come to socialize and bond with others who have a shared past and experiences of what it is to serve their country. Once a service man or woman, always a service man or woman, as they like to say.

George Svencer, President of Post 537 Legion Riders, told an insightful story of a project they work with for homeless veterans. Some veterans who came home from Vietnam, and now Afghanistan and Iraq, suffer from what was once called shell shock and is the now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have difficulty with trusting people and feel a need to retreat from society.

According to Svencer, there are 89 homeless veterans in Berks County. They can be found under bridges and in tent cities. Nationwide, it is reported that 22 veterans commit suicide a day.

“These people need a ‘Hand Up.’ They do not frequent shelters or food kitchens; this is an outreach endeavor where one needs to be introduced to them by a trusted individual before they will let you in,” said Svencer.

Last year, $1,010 was raised, which purchased $3,000 worth of goods and donations from supporters like Boscov’s, JC Penny, Target, Wal-Mart, The Dollar Store and Dr. Scott Wallace, a local dentist who donates tooth brushes and toothpaste, among others. Warm boots, underwear and clothing, among other necessities, were given out to those who could identify as a US veteran.

Candy Burkhart, Legion Riders treasurer, stated, “Due to an eye problem, I was not accepted into the service, so this is my way of serving my country.”

Despite this, she felt a palpable heartfelt commitment to reach out and help.

Linda Jacobs, Ladies Auxiliary historian, said, “One might say that the post is the mother, and we have other groups such as the Legion Riders who take the post on the road.”

Legion Rider Road Captain Neil Wagner, representing Wreaths Across America, in December of last year went by motorcycle in the freezing temperatures to escort the wreathes from Maine to Arlington Memorial Cemetery. He had the opportunity to ride with the First Lady of Maine, who insisted on making the trip and was attended by her security detail.

These are but some of the stories you will hear when you visit the post. Any opportunity you get you may visit. Membership is open for veterans, sons and daughters of veterans, bike riders and social members. Those interested in joining can call 610-286-5920.

Bike shows, pig roasts, raffles, clambakes and all manner of fundraisers are done to support the community.

To sum it up and bring it home to the tri county residents, Post Adjutant Mike Noworarski, a 10 year Navy vet machinist, who was lowered from helicopters onto submarines to preform repairs in the dark of night in the sea, spoke about his life today.

“I can sit with four generations and love to hear them tell their stories,” he said. “I am no longer in the military, but I feel that I am still serving my country and taking care of my fellow veterans.”

Commander Roger Jacobs stated he is very proud of all the members of Post 537. They all work hard at bettering our community.