Never forget

By on September 26, 2018

Lititz VFW Auxiliary held the POW MIA Candlelight Service on Friday, Sept. 21, at the entrance of the Lititz Springs Park due to wet conditions.

Every year since 1989, our country remembers and honors military men and women who remain missing in action or are prisoners of war. Lititz VFW Auxiliary held the POW MIA Candlelight Service on Friday,

The annual ceremony is a reminder that peace has always been tainted by the suffering, pain, deprivation, imprisonment, and death these lost or missing service members may endure.
Kathy Kenavan, Lititz VFW Auxiliary president hosted the evening. She first introduced Bill Stauffer, Vietnam War veteran, and member of the VFW and American Legion, who lead the singing of the National Anthem.

Priscilla Weidman, VFW Post # 1463 auxiliary chaplain opened with the invocation prayer. State Rep. Steve Mentzer of the 97th District, who officiated, declared Sept. 21 the official POW MIA day in Lititz opening the ceremony.

A touching speech was made by Howard Kramer, Listrak COO, a proud supporter of local veteran organizations and events. Kramer was deployed to Vietnam in 1968 serving for four months as a rifleman and radio telephone operator.

The Trail Life Troop 316 of Lititz volunteered and handed out POW/MIA Flags, American Flags, and little candles for attendees to pay their respects.

He volunteered for sniper school and served in that capacity until returning home in July of 1969. Kramer is a highly decorated veteran who was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, four Bronze Stars, two Army Commendation Medals, the Air Medal and the Vietnam Cross of gallantry.

Kramer was followed by prestigious speaker, Brigadier General Mark O’Donnell, who after rigorous touring as an officer, company commander, and staff officer completed Army War College in 2013. At Fort Drum, he commanded the 1st BCT 10th Mountain Division–also served as its Chief of Staff–and deployed with the division to Afghanistan for service as the USFOR–A Chief of Staff.

With such a prestigious resume O’Donnell was assigned to the U.S. Army War College as Director of the Army Strategic Education Program in 2016. The missing man table honors prisoners of war and those lost in action. VFW Auxiliary members participated in this emotional part of the service placing nostalgic symbols at the setting. Kenavan explains the meanings of each item as they are placed at the table followed by a ringing of the bell, by Kathy Wiker VFW Auxiliary Treasurer and announcing “remember.”

The Twin Rose Lady Riders ( Left to Right) Deb McGarrity, Trish Breneman, Dawn Huber, and Natalie Winegarden raise a candle and a flag on cue in honor of our prisoner’s of war and fallen troops.

“They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them,” spoke Kenavan, “The chair is empty they are not here.”

The salt symbolizes the family’s tears of grief, loss and the salt symbolizes the bitterness of sacrifice and loss in war. The glass turned down, the single rose in a vase with a red ribbon, the single chair and the small round table with a white table cloth all have a special meaning. One of the most significant symbols is the candle reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in the hearts of friends and family illuminating the way home, away from captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

Sarah Hummer is a freelance contributor to the Lititz Record Express. For story tips and comments you may contact her at hummersarahj@hotmail.com. 

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