Armed Forces Day -Hanover Township: A moral obligation to support those who have served
Fewer and fewer municipalities celebrate Armed Forces Day, which honors those serving in all military branches. Hanover Township has been reversing that trend, and with growing crowds. It celebrated its third Annual Armed Forces Day Program May 17 at Armed Services Park before a crowd of over 100 people.
In addition to all Hanover supervisors, the ceremony was attended by state representatives Marcia Hahn and Mario Scavello. The Nitschmann Middle MS Marching Band, which provided musical entertainment, played the national Anthem despite having only one day to practice. The Honor Guard was made up of members of American Legion Post 379, located in Bethlehem.
Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Ressler (US Army Ret.) spent 34 years in the Army Corps of Engineers before moving to Bethlehem.
"I wish I had known that before we designed this park, " wisecracked Township Manager Jay Finnigan.
Ressler spoke of the wild variations in the way the public perceives the military. Treated with open hostility in the '70s, they became heroes after 9/11. Today, he described the treatment as "benign neglect," and lamented that "my beloved Army" is currently being reduced to its lowest levels since WWII.
He noted this attitude is universal, and quoted Rudyard Kipling's "Tommy," dedicated to the British soldier:
"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' 'Chuck him out, the brute!'
But it's 'Saviour of 'is country' when the guns begin to shoot."
At a time when some VA administrators are under investigation for hiding waiting lists, Kessler said we have a "moral obligation" to support the men and women who served.
"Hire a vet," he suggested. "Look him in the eye, shake his hand and thank him for his service."