Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Handshake for Roy

     Every Memorial Day in Pottstown usually begins with my early morning visit to the monument built by members of the Vietnam Veterans of America 565 in Memorial Park.
David Borzick places wreath.
     The memorial was built for all service personnel with names of the veterans etched into bricks that were cemented into a walkway. Special areas were laid out in tribute to local Vietnam vets who died in combat.
The military statue at Memorial Park.
     I approach the kneeling statue of a GI and reach to shake his outstretched hand. I clasp the cool bronzed fingers and say my hello to Roy. That is my father's name and one I feel fitting when paying my respects on the day to remember those who have served their country. It's also the spot I've chosen to also remember my mother Virginia on Memorial Day, as my parents are buried in a small country town in Ohio. I haven't been at their graves in over a year.
      I still get that lump in my throat and my eyes glisten in the morning sunshine. I owe them that. The feelings pass and I walk along the tree lines path looking down at all the names.
      From here it's off to the parade to begin another holiday working for The Mercury. I drive to the starting location and greet some of the veterans I've gotten to know over the years. U.S. Marine veteran Cal Books continues to line up the men and he walks along with the color guard. I congratulate Jack McQuaid for being the awarded 2012 Veteran of the Year.
    At 10 a.m. veterans and active duty military begin marching through Pottstown with colorful flags. U.S. Marine Corporal Bryan Walter of Phoenixville, still on active duty, had the honor of carrying the stars and stripes. Bands play and fire trucks and classic cars roll along High Street.
Holocaust survivor Severin Fayerman.
     Then it's back to Memorial Park for speeches and tributes during a solemn service with many people attending this year.
     An especially stirring talk came from Severin Fayerman who spoke on his survival as a prisoner of the Germans held in concentration camps during World War II at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. The Polish immigrant spoke kindly about about the United States and how the military saved his life. He mentioned how lucky Americans are to live in a free country.
    Wreaths were placed for veterans of all wars, then a prayer followed by a 21-gun salute. The sound of 'Taps' could be heard throughout the park played by Boy Scout bugler Nate Fuerman.
     Back at the office I picked photos for the web and the next day's paper. I finish up my shift and drove home thinking of Fayerman. It is a blessing to live in this country despite the turmoil and uncertainty of a weakened economy. As he said we all have won the lottery just being born in this country. I'm going to try to remember his important words.

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