Hometown Heroes banners were presented to the families of 12 local veterans during Newville’s annual Veterans Day service Saturday morning.
“This year, 96 family members said that they would be there,” said Patricia Reed, chairman of the Newville Joint Veterans Council. “This is one of the largest turnouts we’ve had.”
Each banner features a picture of a fallen soldier, along with his or her name, rank and branch of service. Reed said the banners are hung on lampposts throughout Newville at the beginning of summer, and taken down and given to family members during the Veterans Day service.
She said the council works with Newville Borough to sponsor the program, which began four years ago at the suggestion of Borough Manager Fred Potzer.
“He said that other communities were doing this, and I brought it before the (veterans) council,” she said. “We took a vote and thought it was a wonderful idea.”
This year’s Hometown Heroes are Jay W. Myers, Elmer C. Bordner, Clarence T. Hollenbaugh, Earl Miller, Robert E. Clouse, Albert A. Clouse, Carroll W. Clouse, William T. Cline, William M. Stouffer Sr., William J. Cyr, Bennett H. Felix and Grace E. Witter Lehman.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Robert Gilbert was the guest speaker at the service, which was sponsored by the veterans council.
A native of Newville, Gilbert served in Vietnam. He remains active today in many organizations, including the American Legion, the VFW, the Marine Corps League and Toys For Tots.
“I had a good tour of duty,” he told the crowd that gathered at the fountain for the service Saturday. “I loved the Marine Corps.”
He said he has always tried to help others, and he encouraged those in attendance to do the same, especially if they suspect a veteran is “burned out” and perhaps in need of someone to talk to.
“It’s good to do something good for people,” he said. “I try to help anybody I can.”
Gilbert talked about the many programs he supports. In particular, he said that Toys For Tots provides toys for thousands of children and asked the community for its support.
“It’s nice for every kid to wake up with a toy on Christmas morning,” he said.
Randy Lehman, of Newville, was master of ceremonies for the service. He led the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced guests, which included American Legion and VFW post commanders, the mayor and borough council members, and the president of the American Legion Auxiliary.
Members of the audience were also given the opportunity to recognize family members who have served or are currently serving.
The Rev. Don Snyder, pastor of the Doubling Gap Church of God in Newville, offered the invocation and benediction. He thanked all veterans for their service, asked everyone to remember the sacrifices they have made “to provide the freedoms we have today” and prayed for God’s protection.
The national anthem was sung by Mary Hayslett, of Newville, and the rifle salute was followed by “Taps” by Neil McCulloch, of Newville.