Poetry, imagery recalls Fond memories of veterans
Women veterans and warriors came together to recite some of their poetry and to get their message home to those who came to listen in one of the upper rooms at ArtsQuest SteelStacks Memorial Day.
Jenny Pacanowski and Sarah Mess were among the poets who spoke.
Pacanowski, the director of Women Veterans Empowered and Thriving, a nonprofit organization based in Bethlehem, said the group holds workshops two times a week. The workshops are free to veterans. She was in the U.S. Army 2003-07, serving as a combat medic. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Author Sarah Mess said she served in the U. S. Army 1992-2000 as a surgical technician “turned front line soldier.
“Some of my poetry has been included in anthologies,” said Mess.
Among the attendees were Monique Arrucci, who said she joined the military after the 9-11 attacks and served in the Army 2002-10 in transportation. She said she had earned the Combat Action Badge.
In the main room of the SteelStacks building, the Blue Star Mothers Lehigh Valley Chapter had set up a table offering Memorial Day related merchandise in exchange for donations.
Blue Star Mother denotes a mother whose child is either active duty or has formerly served.
Chapter President Judith Miller of Hellertown said her son Wayne served eight years in the Air Force, while another son, Randy, is currently serving in the same branch.
Blue Star Mother Judith Bernstein has two sons (Kevin and Corey) and a daughter-in-law, Anisa (Kaplenk) Bernsein in the U. S. Navy.
Blue Star Mother Elaine Vasko’s son Derek Vasko is in the Navy. Her sister Blue Star Mother Valerie Sapirman’s son, Natthew Sapirman, is a veteran of the Pa. National Guard, while her daughter, West Point graduate Chelsea Sims, is with the U. S. Army serving as a military policewoman. Sapirman’s daughter-in-law, Sequoia Sims,is also a military policewoman in the Army.
Attached to the fences that run along the sidewalks leading from the parking lot to the SteelStacks building are large panels with the photographs and some information about the veterans.
Vietnam War veteran William “Bill” Bickert of Bethlehem has his picture on the fence alongside the picture of his father, Clarence Bickert, a World War II vet.
“I’m so honored to be with my dad,” he said emotionally.
A little further along down the fence of honor were Leo and Carla Kempinski of Allentown who were standing in front of both their fathers. Leo’s father, Leo W. Kempinski, was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII.
“Oh my God,” said Leo Kempinski, “It’s so great we could get our fathers’ pictures in here.”
His wife Carla’s father, Charles Breidinger, was on a ship during WWII. “His ship was hit by a Kamikaze,” said Carla. (A Kamikaze was a Japanese airplane flown by specially trained suicide pilots, who flew into ships, hoping to destroy them.)
“My father was a wonderful man – a great father,” said Carla. “He was a terrific, hard-working American.”
Also notable on the photo-festooned fence sponsored by Embassy Bank were many groupings of family names and photographs depicting the long service and sacrifice some families in the Lehigh Valley area have given to their country.
One of these family groupings feature the Klingers of Bethlehem; it has the photos of Burton R. Klinger Jr., Burton R. Klinger Sr., Gerald A. Klinger, and Richard L. Klinger.
Another grouping features the Hahn family of Hellertown. It is notable because the years of service for each of the men show service in WWI (William Hahn), WWII (Robert Hahn) and in the Vietnam War (Terry Hahn).
There were many more such family groupings on the fence depicting many generations of military service to America.