Wing members honor the fallen, take part in service appreciation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 111th Attack Wing recognized service members' commitments and sacrifices during Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day events across the region, May 16 and 25, 2015.

Invited to speak at townships, businesses and cemeteries, officers of the Wing gave residents, parade on-lookers and veterans' groups messages of remembrance and honor.

"The Constitution and Bill of Rights gave Americans the freedom of speech, religion, demonstration and the freedom to bear arms," said keynote speaker 1st Lt. Charese Adams, 201st RED HORSE, Det. 1 logistics readiness officer here, during the Third Annual Armed Forces Day recognition ceremony at the Valley Forge Casino, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. "But it's the American military that ensures those freedoms with their blood, sweat and tears. Today is a thank you for those who take the oath to protect and defend."

"This is so much more than just an event to us," said Lisa Ciallella, the casino's employee relations manager. "Year round, employees here volunteer their time for a variety of community based-events, but I always look forward to this."

The morning of Memorial Day witnessed Wing volunteers serving as guest presenters during township parades and tributes.

Many residents in the village of Ivyland, Pa., were either in the parade or on the sidelines cheering as fire fighters, Boy Scouts and members of the William Tenant High School marching band zigzagged their way through the town, ending at Memorial Park.

"As Decoration Day transformed into Memorial Day, it became less about the act of decorating the graves of the soldiers, and more about remembering their spirit and that of all Americans," said Capt. Timothy McManus, Wing executive officer.

In nearby Warminster, the stage was set for their Memorial Day tribute. Bagpipes, bustling vendors and the screeching sirens of fire trucks beckoned the crowd to the opening ceremonies.

"The names of Pennsylvania's fallen - including 53 Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers who died while supporting operations since 9/11, can be found on post offices, bridges and roadways named in their memories," said Capt. Sean Pearson, 111th Attack Wing's public affairs officer. "Those names - or rather the lives they symbolized, are the reason we gather each year for Memorial Day."

Capt. Aaron Shick, 111th Air Operations Group logistics readiness officer, closed the day by speaking at the 55th Annual Avenues of Flags ceremony at Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Ambler, Pennsylvania. Meticulously decorated with American flags, the park is the final resting place for more than 400 veterans.

"The American spirit is decorated with optimism," said Shick.  Just in the past 100 years, Americans have relied on this optimism to see us through seven major conflicts."

Closing the moving remembrance, Shick said "Our flag doesn't fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it."