A rainy Memorial Day morning caused the cancellation of Carbondale’s annual Memorial Day parade, but the city’s ceremony to honor local military heroes who were killed in action or who died in service was held as scheduled despite the inclement weather. The ceremony, which typically takes place in Memorial Park, was held in City Hall in order to provide those in attendance with shelter from the intermittent rain showers.
Master of ceremonies for the event was Jerry Maida, USMC. Opening remarks were made by city councilman Joseph Connor, a navy veteran whose family has demonstrated a long tradition of military service. Pastor Richard Miller of the Covenant Reformed Church gave the invocation.
The substantial crowd in attendance was led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Matthew J. Maida and Jack Rock. Jack, the grandson of local businessman and Vietnam veteran Bruce Rock, was the fourth Rock grandchild to fulfill this role at the Carbondale Memorial Day Ceremony. “They’ve all said the Pledge here, and now Jack is the last one. He’s very proud to do it,” said Jack’s mom, Jennifer Rock.
Following the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Carbondale Area High School marching band performed the national anthem under the direction of band director Megan Hulse. Carbondale Area High School student council vice-president Genna McDonough read General John A. Logan’s Memorial Day Order, the order setting aside a day to remember those who died in battle or in military service. The Gettysburg Address was read by Carbondale Area High School student council president Chelsie Jones.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dominick L. Nati was principal speaker for the event. The Carbondale native is a 1976 graduate of St. Rose High School who enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard that same year. He served continually for 35 years, was the recipient of several awards, and commanded missions in Honduras, Bosnia, and Iraq.
Lt. Col. Nati’s speech detailed the participation of the 316th Regiment, which counted among its members numerous citizens of Carbondale, in World War I. He related that on November 11, 1918, the day that marked the armistice between the Allies and Germany, “there was no cheering from the members of the 316th because of memories of their departed comrades.”
Urging those gathered to recommit to the meaning of Memorial Day by visiting memorials, flying flags at half staff, placing flowers at gravesites of deceased members of the military, helping the widows and children of fallen soldiers, and participating in the National Moment of Remembrance, Lt. Col. Nati also encouraged gratitude for those service men and women who are currently deployed. He concluded by saying to those gathered, “I ask each of us to keep faith with those who have fought our wars by keeping their memory alive.”
Following Lt. Col. Nati’s moving and inspiring words, local veterans read the roll call of local military personnel who were either killed in action or who died in service from the Civil War to the present. Deceased members of the Memorial Day Committee were also remembered as their names were solemnly read by Russell Dilley, SFC, US Army (Ret.).
Carbondale’s Memorial Day ceremony concluded with the presentation of wreaths at the war memorials in Memorial Park, the firing of the salute by members of the 109th Infantry (Mech.), and the playing of Taps. The Memorial Day ceremony was a moving reminder of how necessary it is to honor and remember those men and women who have fought to establish, protect, and maintain the freedoms that all Americans hold dear.