The Pennsylvania Farm Show honored veterans on Veterans, Military & Their Families Day on Jan. 11.
Held at Expo Hall’s Lancaster Farming Stage, the veterans ceremony included patriotic music, a ceremonial color guard and greetings from PA Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding; Major General Carrelli, the PA Adjutant General; Major General (Ret.) Eric Weller, DMVA’s deputy adjutant general for Veterans Affairs; Central Pennsylvania Foodbank Executive Director Joe Arthur. Veteran Greg Stegall, Manager of PA’s MilitaryShare and Veteran Tim Wallace Executive Director of Milk and Honey Farms.
“Farmers are the 2 percent of our nation that feeds us. Veterans are the 2 percent that protects us. We honor those who feed, those who serve, and those who do both. It’s always a good day to recognize those who dedicate their lives for our freedom,” said Secretary Redding.
Veteran Tim Wallace spoke on behalf of Military Share, a mobile food distribution for needy veterans and their families, “Milk & Honey Farms, my farm, is home to a small herd of pygmy goats, a seven-hive apiary that produces raw honey, a flock of free-ranged egg laying chickens, a young 36 fruit tree orchard, two huskies who keep away the fox and coyotes, and six domestic ducks who patrol the pond.”
Milk & Honey Farms donates to the Military Share program of the Central PA Food Bank.
“This year we donated 1,000 pounds to Bethesda Mission, they seek out the veterans and homeless under bridges and on the streets. Food for people, not for profit,” he said.
Wallace served during the Gulf War and Panama in Psychological Operations, and as an Illustrator in the combat unit.
His goal is to use every bit of his property to help veterans in need, not just food, but a place to fish and a place to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Honey Brook retired farmer C. Ivan Stoltzfus, founder of Across America for Wounded Heroes, was a featured speaker after the opening ceremony.
“We are free because so many of you paid the price,” said Stoltzfus in his opening remarks to the veterans and crowd. “Families take care of each other. We are all family! I represent people showing love to you and telling you, your needs are not forgotten. Too many came back home looked at like damaged goods. We welcome you vets home today.”
Tying together the farmer and the military, Stoltzfus took the audience along for the ride with a 40-minute slide presentation of him driving Johnabilt, a 1948 Model A John Deere retrofitted farm tractor, raising funds and awareness for Across America for Wounded Heroes. He traveled through 31 states and logged 8,300 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific at 15 miles per hour.
“I drove the tractor, but it was a team effort, many many people helped to make it happen,” he said.
Photos showed visits to state fairs, fundraising auctions, national parks, campsites, cities and towns, and more. PA Sec. Redding met him in Gettysburg at a ceremony. He was ever challenged by State Police pulling him over with fears he couldn’t go on, but always to his surprise they thanked him for his mission and sent him on his way. Except once, three state police in Florida’s Panhandle pulled him over and handcuffed him to Johnabilt until someone ransomed him for $100. They said we have your 6 o’clock and let him go when the ransom was paid by friends.
Texas hailstorms, Rocky Mountain snow and ice storms never stopped him. He worried about runaway trucks, the unending nails and stuff the tires picked up. Johnabilt would rear up going down steep mountain passes, his shifting, applying the electric brakes on the camper, and prayers helped to pull the six-ton rig along.
He spent hours meeting and praying with veterans as many tears flowed.
He prayed, going into the desert with no air conditioning, for his safety and that he would find someone to help. Indeed, he did find a young man broken down and used the air compressor on the camper to aid him on to his destination.
“The Rocky Mountains are really high, but Pennsylvania hills are really steep,” he laughed. “Coming home into Pennsylvania I felt like the Israelites coming home to the Promised Land.”
“We are free because someone was willing to serve,” he said.
His book “Dream to Reality” is available on Amazon. Visit his website at helpamericanheroes.com or follow him on Facebook at Across America for Wounded Heroes.