Service at park salutes veterans

On a brisk sunny day, with a stiff breeze snapping the bright colors of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families, dignitaries and others, paid solemn tribute to local heroes.

WNEP-TV personality Mike Stevens, who served as guest speaker at the annual Lycoming County Veterans Council Memorial Day Service Saturday, said military war veterans deserve to be honored for the sacrifices they gave on behalf of their nation.

Stevens, host of “On the Pennsylvania Road”, was among those saluting the veterans.

“On days like this and places like this, we take time to remember,” said Stevens as he addressed the audience at the park along West Fourth Street in Williamsport.

Stevens, a former U.S. Army reservist, said he doesn’t know how to really adequately say thanks to those who’ve served. After all, those who’ve given their lives in battle have made it possible for Americans to practice their freedoms – whether it’s voicing an opinion or casting a vote.

Those who go to war endure a lot, Stevens said, leaving home and loves ones to fight an enemy in a strange land.

“War is hell. Not everyone is able to do it,” he said.

Jess Hackenburg II, chairman of the Veterans Memorial Park Commission and a U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, said the park pays tribute to the 653 Lycoming County veterans who’ve died in battle since World War I.

“We feel this is one of the finest memorials of its kind,” he said.

Hackenburg recognized the volunteers and park commission members who’ve helped maintain and develop the park over the years. Special tribute was given to the late George E. Logue, a World II veteran, who donated land for the park.

Each branch of the military was recognized during the ceremonies as well as some of the area veterans who’ve served. State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, said it was important to remember all veterans – both living and deceased. The Smith Family, of Methane, N.C. sang the Marine, Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard theme songs.

The ceremony included the laying of wreaths at the Williamsport Submarine, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Tank, and Global Conflicts and Satellites for Peace and Freedom memorials.

Donald Lomison, chaplain of the Korean War Veterans of Lycoming County, gave the invocation and the benediction. The Korean War Veterans performed the rifle salute and taps as well as the retiring of colors and the presentation of colors.