By Fran Byers
The sun shone brightly in Clark Park on Saturday, November 12, as neighbors gathered at the Gettysburg Stone in Clark Park to pay tribute to all those in the Armed Forces who have sacrificed, past and present, to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in America.
After a greeting by Fran Byers of the Friends of Clark Park, Frank Innes told how his father built bridges in France during World War II, and that the large flag traditionally used at this ceremony was presented to his family at his funeral. After the “Star Spangled Banner” was sung, Bill Hunter introduced four HMS students: John Bailey, Brett Marsh, Tara Stern and Jordana Warmflash who described the history of Veterans Day and Satterlee Hospital with their computerized communications devices. They then led the audience in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Under the direction of Assistant Troop Leader Frank Innes, Boy Scouts Miles Lee and Devon Curtis and of Troop 152, St. Francis de Sales, held the Innes flag aloft in front of the Gettysburg Stone while Dante Gibbons read the Gettysburg Address.
Veterans in the audience were introduced and each described the nature of his military service. They included Richard Freeman (a U.S. Army medical corpsman who served with an armored unit in Germany), a veteran who wished to be anonymous (a member of the U.S. Army invasions of the Anzio beachhead in Italy and San Raphael in France during World War II), Richard Lawrence (U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy – he served on the first nuclear ship on the West Coast, as well as in Okinawa Japan), and two representatives of the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House: George Roache, Assistant Director (U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, he served in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia), and Rev. Dr. Chris Kimmenez, Chaplain (a Marine for 22 years, he served around the world aboard ship with the USMC Force Recon).
The role of the Comfort House in hosting veterans who are undergoing medical treatment at local hospitals was described, as well as its outreach to homeless and other needy veterans. The Comfort House works on a slim budget, and Mr. Roache appealed to neighbors for donations of food and money to help it extend its scope of service. Contact the Comfort House: 4108 Baltimore Ave., Phila. PA 19104, 267-292-2052, firstname.lastname@example.org.
All present joined in singing “God Bless America” while Boy Scouts Miles Lee and Devon Curtis folded the American flag in military fashion. Richard Lawrence solemnly laid flowers at the base of the Gettysburg Stone to conclude the ceremony.
Note: Students from the HMS School and Boy Scouts participated in the placement of the Gettysburg Stone in Clark Park in 1916 by grateful neighbors in thanks for the fine work performed by the medical staff at Satterlee U.S. Army Hospital, the nation’s largest Army hospital during the Civil War. It was situated northwest from Baltimore Ave. to approximately 46th and Pine St. and treated at least 60,000 sick and wounded soldiers until its close in 1865.
As we go about our daily activities, let us remember to give thanks to veterans that we meet for their service and to pray for them and their families who have sacrificed so much.