Veterans Celebrated in Clark Park in 19th Annual Ceremony
By Fran Byers
The sun shone brightly in Clark Park on Saturday, November 10, 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 Erin Engelstad, President 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. Rich Magnuson, himself a veteran, introduced four HMS students: Brett Marsh, Anahoe O’Connell, Greg Viola and Jordana Warmflash who described the history of Veterans Day and Satterlee Hospital with their computerized communications devices. Brett Marsh then led the audience in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Boy Scouts Miles Lee, John Cherry, Charles McNeil and Vaughn Davis and of Troop 152, St. Francis de Sales, participated under the direction Troop Leader Michael Horsey. Two of them held the Innes flag aloft in front of the Gettysburg Stone while all sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and then the other scouts read the Gettysburg Address.
Veterans in the audience were introduced and each described the nature of his military service. They represented the Army Nursing Corps, the Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam, the Marine Corps, which celebrated its 237 anniversary, and the PA National Guard. They were Rich Magnuson (of the HMS School), Alan Poindexter, April Carter, Dansel Landingin, Jeff Yoo and Sgt. Major Wallace Presley, who represented the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House. Each veteran was given an American flag in thanks by Fran Byers.
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 donations of food and money to help it extend its scope of service would be much appreciated. Contact the Comfort House: 4108 Baltimore Ave., Phila. PA 19104, 267-292-2052, www.vetscomforthouse.org.
All present joined in singing “God Bless America” while two Boy Scouts folded the American flag in military fashion. Sgt. Major Presley solemnly laid flowers at the base of the Gettysburg Stone to conclude the ceremony. 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.
Note: In continuing a long-standing tradition, 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. The hospital 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.