Korea/Vietnam Memorial celebrates 12th anniversary
Korea/Vietnam Memorial Inc., hosted its 12th anniversary of the dedication of the U.S. Armed Forces Plaza this spring in the Lisa Scheller-Wayne Woodman Community Service Center at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Schnecksville.
The dedication, to honor the most recent entries at the plaza, began with the laying of wreaths by the Korean War Veterans of Pennsylvania.
Parkland High School graduate Erin Kelly sang the National Anthem, the Armed Forces Medley and God Bless America.
The Rev. Ken Kalisz of Hope Community Church, Weisenberg Township, gave the invocation and benediction. KVM Board Member Frank Ginter was the emcee for the dedication.
State Rep. Gary Day, R-187th, and Dr. Ann Bieber, president of Lehigh Carbon Community College greeted the guests.
Day began by saying he was thrilled to be at the dedication
“I just want to say thank you to everybody who put this event together,” Day said. “It gives me an opportunity to come here and support all our armed forces past, present and future.”
Day closed by thanking all the servicemen and women and their families in the room for their years of service after talking about a YouTube video he saw earlier about a young lady who escaped North Korea.
Dr. Bieber also stated she was honored to be a part of the ceremony, the relationship LCCC has and has had for the past 12 years with KVM.
“We’ve gathered each spring here to pay tribute to our veterans, to respect our fallen veterans and to honor our armed forces,” Bieber stated. “As it was 12 years ago, it continues today to be a work of honor, integrity, founded on a rock of leadership and national values.”
“As we move forward let us be grateful for the sacrifices of all of those involved,” she said.
Bieber closed by stating, “To the families of the service men and women across the country and all around the world we thank you for your services.”
Leslie Bartholomew, director of LCCC Veterans Services and Jeff Mandrell, president of LCCC Veterans Club also addressed the gathering.
Bartholomew spoke about her work with veterans and the many challenges they face when transitioning from military life to academia life.
“What I have learned from working with the veterans personally is they are all about giving back,” she stated.
Mandrell spoke briefly about his life in the military and becoming a student at LCCC.
The guest speaker was Michael O’Dell of Allentown, former Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from 1965-66 at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
O’Dell, who was a sergeant with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Army’s official ceremonial unit, shared stories about his life as a guard with those in attendance.
He said the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is America’s most sacred shrine.
“You should be proud of the men and women who serve as honor guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” O’Dell said in closing.
Two special presentations were given to David Venditta and Donald Snyder, former state representative and former president of LCCC by KVM Board Member Connie Wolf.
She said Venditta is an example of just what KVM tries to do, honor all veterans and as a former editor he had a way of reaching the public and bringing soldiers stories to life and keeping them alive.
After Wolf shared the story of how Snyder was instrumental in bringing the U.S. Armed Forces plaza to LCCC, she and her husband Bob Wolf presented him with a painting of the Plaza.
Snyder said after receiving the painting, “Hopefully the next generation will continue the (KVM) mission and the dream that each of you have in this room.”
Viola Hertzog, KVM secretary and Carol Kuhns, KVM benefactors presented the families of Macungie resident Sgt. Michael Decker, Marine Corps, Vietnam and Frederick Reppert, Air Force, Korea with photos of their relatives new pavers stone at the Plaza.
The dedication program was in memory of Allentown residents Mel Deisenroth, Army, Korea; Violet Strohl, Navy, Korean Conflict; and John D. Kuhns, 1959 Parkland High School graduate and former owner, with his wife, Carol, of the Kuhnsville Car Wash.
Wolf said John Kuhns, who was a real believer in the Korea/Vietnam Memorial was really excited when the Armed Forces Plaza at LCCC became a reality.
“For 11 years he continued to add more names on the granite,” Wolf said. “We dedicate a cherry tree in his honor at the Plaza.”
The late Joseph N. Timmons, who served in Vietnam, and KVM benefactor Richard Musselman of Allentown were also honored and memorial donations from Joy Reppert for Richard F. Nederostek and Peter and Candace Reese for Elizabeth Hanzarik were acknowledged at the dedication.
After American Legion Post 576 retired the colors, gave a military gun salute and taps guest were treated to a small reception.