MAHANOY CITY – At the request of local veterans in Ashland, Coaldale and Mahanoy City, State Senator David G. Argall (R-29) this week participated in Veterans Day services to honor area men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. (Below is an excerpt of Senator Argall’s Veterans Day message.)
“It’s a pleasure to join you here today to remember our Veterans, old and new.
It’s clear that there is something timeless about the willingness to respond to the call to serve. Service and sacrifice are the hallmarks of our military veterans.
In World War II – One out of seven members of the Armed Forces hailed from Pennsylvania. Our overall veteran population topped 1 million.
One of my proudest days in public service was the day I honored dozens of WW II veterans as a State Representative for Schuylkill and Berks Counties, a few years ago. The highlight of the ceremony was when my guest speaker, Tony Konecny, a recently retired Naval submarine officer whom I have known since we attended classes together at Tamaqua High, saluted two World War II Veterans: His Mom and Dad, Butch and Alice Konecny. To this day, I don’t know who was prouder–Tony, of Butch and Alice, or Butch and Alice, of their son the Naval officer, in that sparkling white uniform.
The Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo…and, now Iraq and Afghanistan have brought new veterans to the ranks of Pennsylvania’s 1.1 million veterans.
Today, military veterans are mothers and fathers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, homemakers, accountants, teachers, supply clerks, and others.
Just last week, one young Operation Desert Shield vet, in quite a local upset, was elected as the new Mayor of McAdoo.
These Veterans are our neighbors. They are parents and coaches. They are employees and employers in our towns and communities around the Nation.
They can lead a platoon, organize a social function, run a political campaign, or chair a business meeting. These men and women have all answered the call–and continue to serve our communities, every day.
Sometimes, we make the mistake of taking them for granted. Fortunately, we also receive frequent reminders of the value of their service, and how fortunate we are to live here in America, today. For me, one of the most important reminders came in the summer of 1987, when I volunteered to help a group of German Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts at their camp in the little town of Rieneck, in northern Bavaria.
One day, I had some time off, so I wandered around the town. I came across a monument which, at first glance, looked just like one of our veteran’s monuments…but then I looked closer. The first thing which I noticed was that there were many more names of soldiers killed in action on their monument than on our local monuments. So many of their World War I and II veterans never came home.
Think of how lucky we are, as Americans. While our government is not perfect–believe me, I understand that fact–we have never suffered under politicians as misguided and outright evil as their leaders from the last century. Their politicians of that era set off untold suffering, not just for their own people, but for millions across the entire world. I suspect today, almost any German alive would be willing to trade their Kaiser Wilhelm or der Fuhrer for our most unpopular President in our entire history.
Every day, I should get down on my knees and thank God that I was born and raised here in 1958 and not in Silesia, in 1938, on the German/Polish border….the land of my mother’s ancestors. It was my oath on my Great-Grandmother Schultz’s German Bible earlier this year that allowed me to serve as your Senator.
That day, in Rieneck, I saw a very unusual thing–that monument memorialized not only their veterans of World War I and II, but also the victims of the Nazi death camps, the residents of Rieneck who, for one reason or another, were trucked off by their politicians and never seen again. Think about that meeting, down at the German veterans’ Bierhalle, as they tried to determine how to honor both sides of that tragic equation. If you ever need a reminder of why we should be proud of our nation’s history, think of the people of that small Bavarian town.
It’s only natural that on days like this, that we speak of war and suffering. But we must speak of peace as well. We speak of defending our nation, but we also speak of the need for humanity and understanding.
General Douglas MacArthur, in an address at the West Point Military Academy in 1962, said,
‘The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.’
I am not sure I agree completely with the General. There is one group, I suspect, that prayed just as hard, and suffered almost as much–the Gold Star mothers of each war. I know my mother always worries more about her children than we do, about ourselves.
Years ago, I asked my mother, who was only 10 years old at the end of World War II, what she remembered from that terrible era. Her answer has haunted me ever since. Her most vivid memory, living in a row home in St. Clair, was the sound of her next door neighbors’ crying through the walls when they heard the terrible news that their son would not be returning home alive. From 1941 to 1945, that same awful scene was replayed thousands of times, in towns small and large, across our nation.
It is up to society to make sure that our veterans and their loved ones did not make their sacrifices for nothing. Patriotism, love of country, support for democracy. These words may sound foolish or old-fashioned to some people today. But more than a million men and women died for those ideals, on our behalf.
Millions more have freely given precious years, standing at the ready. Their sacrifices were not foolish. The convictions they believed in are lasting and timeless.
Thank you, our honored Veterans, for all that you have done to protect us, in places near and far.”
Contact: Nick Troutman