LAKE ARIEL - At The Hideout community this Memorial Day, history of the day was shared. Bill Wagner told how Memorial Day was originally referred to as Decoration Day and James Garfield who was a general and eventually the president of the United States, spoke at Arlington National Cemetery, where 5,000 people decorated the graves of 20,000 union and confederate soldiers.

Then, in 1915 Wagner told of Monlina Michael who thought of wearing poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died “serving the nation during war.” Michael was the first to wear and sell poppies to friends, with the funds benefiting servicemen in need. Then, later the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies in 1922 and soon after, their “buddy poppy” program was created, where disabled veterans make the artificial poppies   

The chaplain of the Lake Ariel Fire Company, Ed Sparkowski, said Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have served in the armed forces, whether at home or abroad for “our nation’s independence.” As people gather to remember, a “sacred trust” unites everyone as they pay tribute to those who “gave their lives in defense of all that America stands for.” To remember, is a way to pay honor to all and recognize the “spirit of sacrifice.”

Wagner referenced a speech President Ronald Reagan gave at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1985 that there is a ‘special sadness that accompanies the death of servicemen,’ because ‘what they gave us is beyond our powers to repay.’ And so, when a serviceman dies, all anyone can do is remember. Those who die in service, give up two lives, ‘the one they were living and one they would’ve lived.’ For that, Wagner continued that, ‘we owe them a debt we can never repay.’ Instead, all that can be done is to remember them and what they did.   

The Commander of the American Legion Post 807, Tim French, who is a retired captain from the United States Navy said the program at The Hideout was a “celebration of the lives of those” who ‘defended our nation.’” For those who died while serving, their “legacy” lives on as Americans gather “in a free society” together to honor an “uncommon bravery.” The truth is that, those in attendance are their legacy.   

While engaged in The Great War, WWI, French told of a “brash aviator” who was thought to be reckless as he ignored his senior officers, but claimed 18 aerial victories over German pilots in “just 18 days” at the age of 21. Frank Luke was the first pilot to receive the Medal of Honor.  

Then, 50 years later, Sharon Lane who committed herself to caring for those who entered the army nurse corps in 1968. At that time, women were exempted from the draft French said and so, First Lieutenant Lane volunteered her service as she was “where she wanted to be with the wounded soldiers” who needed her help in Vietnam.   
While Lane served many, she doesn’t have the fame of many others who served as well, French said, but she was “just as much a hero.” At her base, rocket attacks were common and on June 8, 1969 she paid the “ultimate sacrifice” after she was killed when a rocket blasted through her ward. Although she was not the only female who died in the Vietnam War, French said she was the only female nurse killed by enemy fire.
The names of seven other women are actually engraved on the wall in Washington D.C.. One local female “hero” is from Dunmore and she was a nurse who served three years before Lane. Second Lieutenant Carol Drazba was actually killed February 28, 1966 in a helicopter crash. Lane and Drazba, French said, were the first women to die in the Vietnam War.  
The heroes remembered on Memorial Day are “not exclusive to any gender, race or religion” because the group is “diverse” who share a belief that “America is a nation worth dying for,” said French.    
Not all heroes, French said, die from enemy fire, because there are times when military service “requires dangerous risks.” Such was the case last month when four marines died in a helicopter crash during a training exercise in California. He shared a saying, ‘There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. But there are no old bold pilots.’  
For those who lose a family member in combat, French said they too must be recognized and supported because no matter where one serves, “we say thank you for the freedom you have given us. We are here because of you.”   
Wiegand ended the program by noting that a wounded veteran, Daniel Swift who was injured when a Humvee blew up, and still saved another soldier from the attack that left shrapnel in his eye and leg. Swift will be given a key to The Hideout this August as he receives a weeks vacation along with gifts and meals. For that, a large turnout is hoped for. As well, a 40-foot flagpole will be placed on the beach in honor to Purple Heart recipients.