Here are some of the past Memorial Day presentations in honor of our vets.
By Alex Stavisky
Today we honor those who have given their lives, their futures, so
that we can live and enjoy the freedoms of this great land.
On this day, millions of Americans will attend Memorial Day
services across our nation.
Many of us will attend services in small towns and villages we
have come to call “Home”.
Unlike most holidays, usually observed as joyous occasions,
today is a day of respect, reflection, and reverence. It is also a
day that will stir a variety of emotions in many of us.
To some, it will not only be a day to honor the fallen, but it will
also be a day to offer service once again, as with our proud
veterans who are participating in today’s services, many of
whom have done so year after year.
Today, some of us will reflect on the experiences of military
Some will recall the loss of a family member or friend.
Today, I recall finding my friend’s name on the “Vietnam
Words can never describe the flood of emotions one feels at that
instant of time.
For our young, who are just beginning their life experiences, this
day can be a day of opportunity. An opportunity for a learning
We must ask ourselves, what do we want our new generation to
take away from today’s services, because what they see and
hear today will become part of what shapes the character of our
With that thought in mind, it is those learning experiences in my
life and that of my family that I would like to share today.
Growing up in Lopez was truly growing up in “small town
For our generation, also known as “baby boomers”, Lopez was
Not the hustle bustle of city life, but a little village full of everyday
true life experiences.
Everything we needed was right here. We had employment with
the Weldon pajama factory and the Endicott Johnson Shoe
Company just over the hill in Mildred.
Those one-dollar-an-hour jobs fed a lot of families, and a lot of
We had a school, churches, and two grocery stores. We had a
well-worn baseball diamond and with the many trails, swimming
holes, camping spots, and creeks (which we pronounced,
“crick”) there were plenty of places for a kid to explore. Also, with
three taverns, Lopez had nightlife.
Dr. Saul, from Dushore, would travel here on Saturday to visit his
patients; and no matter what medication he gave you it always
seemed to cost just three dollars.
One of the first Memorial Day services I attended is still clear in
my mind. I remember being allowed to ride my bicycle to
town that morning if I took the baseball cards off the spoked
wheels and promised not to get in the way. I did my best.
It was in the mid-fifties. Lopez had many more residents back
It seemed to me that we had as many people in the parade and
ceremony as there were observers; so much so that I recall
riding my bike alongside the parade so as not to feel left out.
And I was not alone. Kids were everywhere.
We had the Turnpike High School Marching Band – I can still see
those glimmering uniforms as they proudly marched down Main
Street. We had floats, 4-H club marchers, young girls all dressed
up on hayrides, Legionnaires, our VFW, the Ladies Auxiliary, the
Lopez fire truck and (as I understand) on at least one occasion,
Mrs. Borick’s milking cows even got in the parade.
Mayberry had nothing on Lopez.
One thing that stood out to me were the soldiers that marched.
Those were the faces I saw every day. But on this day they
looked VERY different.
They were dressed in their vintage military uniforms, combat
boots, some with gaiters strapped tight, many rifles, flags flying,
and banners waving.
Seeing the proud look on their faces, hearing the sounds of the
cadence of their steps, the detail of the organization – it was all
unique to me at the time.
Something was far different than usual on this day.
Reflecting back to those days, it was a time when World War II
was still fresh in peoples’ memories. Many of our towns’ men
had brought back the scars of battle with them.
You could just see how proud we were as Americans.
America had played a major role in winning the freedom for the
world and the excitement of that hard-earned victory could be
seen in everything we did.
Our nation had never been stronger.
Our nation had never been more proud.
Our nation had never been more united.
Little did I know that what would come to be called,
“The Greatest Generation” was here, in Lopez, standing right in
front of me.
It was also a time when women’s voices were stronger then ever.
Women were a growing part of the workforce after proving
to be an invaluable part of the war effort. With over 12 million of
our most able-bodied men in military service, women were
called upon to do the many rugged jobs needed to support the
Without their hard work and determination, our military position
would never have made the difference. Surely many more
lives would have been lost.
You only have to remember the posters of Rosie the Riveter.
As my wife, Virginia, and I raised our family in Pennsylvania, we
attended almost every memorial day event in this little village of
Lopez. We even had our own spot; just a few steps away from
the cement stairs leading up to the memorial. And for our
children, Cindy and Mike, attending these services would
become that valuable learning experience.
Our family tradition was that after the Memorial Day service, we
would go up to St. Vladimir’s cemetery, up over Jackson hill, to
pay our respects. All the Stavisky side of our family are resting
there. It was on one of those days on the drive up that steep
cemetery hill that my daughter, Cindy, about eight years old,
said, “hey Dad”; “yeah Cind”, I replied, “why did they have to
As I started with a simple explanation about the circle of life, she
abruptly stopped me and said “NO” Dad; the soldiers, what the
man said at the parade”; (meaning that day’s speaker), “why did
the soldiers have to die?”
It was at that moment I realized two things. One, was that an
eight year old was listening; and two, my wife and I now
had another, very important, challenge added to our job
description as parents.
Continuing to attend the Memorial Day services here in little old
Lopez would eventually provide our children with many of those
It would provide context and understanding for the many
sacrifices that our military men and women make for our country
to continue to keep its freedoms.
It would provide the foundations for Patriotism and Civic pride.
It would shape an understanding of our time-honored traditions
and love of country.
Finally, it would build what has become an everlasting respect for
our great American Flag.
By Robert McGuire
Thank you, Tim
Welcome residents and friends to the annual Lopez Memorial Day program.
The date was Sunday the 16th of May 1943.
Hundreds of people from Lopez and around the county were gathered right here.
They were here in observance of “I AM AN AMERICAN DAY”.
To be honest, I don’t recall ever hearing of that before, but I was only one year old then.
It was then that a large beautiful LOPEZ HONOR ROLL showing 149 names of Lopez servicemen was unveiled and dedicated.
It was erected on the school grounds right in front of the flag pole that still stands up there. It is said that the rain and mist that day dimmed the atmosphere but not the heartfelt emotion of the crowd. You see, the Lopez residents were so proud of their people in service, they worked many weeks to complete that memorial, a true tribute to our people in the war.
The committee responsible for its erection and dedication was Stephen Chupack, P. A. Daly, Miss Ann Yarosh, and Miss Laura Covey. To William Raub of Lopez goes most of the credit for the work. James Daly of Dushore, did the electrical work on 2 neon rings and floodlights that lit up at night.
It was described as the most attractive in these parts and second to none when measured by the size of the Lopez community. At this dedication was:
Master of ceremonies…..T. O. McCracken
Rev. C. B. Meyers of Dushore
Miss Dorothy Kracoski of Lopez, sang the National Anthem.
Attorney F. W. Meyert
John M. Lumley county superintendent
Rev. Peter Dubrovsky of Lopez
The 149 names on this Honor Roll were listed by family in order of number of members in service. 38 families were responsible for 99 members in service. They ranged from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2 family members in service. There were 50 Single Star families that made up the rest.
More names were added in following years to make over 200 Lopez men and a few women in service in the Second World War. Names were then listed alphabetically. Lopez had the highest percentage of military serving in the country. Very few people now will know or remember any of the names on that Honor Roll or the people responsible for its construction.
As a boy a few years later, I can still remember the Memorial Day parades. They seemed to last for an hour, cars and people all over the place, military marching to their places on each side of the Honor Roll, floats, speaker, singing, prayers, firing squad, taps, band playing and all over. Then after they were gone, us boys rushed up the hill to recover some or even just one of the shells that were fired in the 21 gun salute.
Something else always stuck in my head. Most names on the Honor Roll were made with white plastic letters.
About a dozen were in gold letters. It wasn’t till a few years later that favorite teacher Miss Macik told us what that meant. These were the soldiers that were killed in action. These are the men that gave their all so we can be here and be free.
Just a few Lopez military for you to think about:
Pvt. Daniel Stavisky killed in action in France November 1944 22 years old
Pvt. Thomas K Cahill Jr. killed in Anzio during the Allied drive on Rome May 23rd 1944 24 years old
Pvt. Eugene Cahill killed in Germany October 1944
Sgt. Steve Urena killed in action in the Luzon Islands Jan 29, 1945 at the age of 21
Pvt. Frank Kravetz killed in action in France October 17, 1944 he was 22 years old. He is buried in a US cemetery in Europe. The Kravitz family had 8 sons in the war.
There were others killed in action listed on the Honor that Roll.
Please think of them also.
To these men and all the others around the country that gave their all, today we honor, and we salute.
Thank you to all the parade participants.
Thank you for attending.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
By Robert McGuire
Thank you, Ed
Thank you and welcome to Lopez, Ice Box Of Pennsylvania.
It is already a year since we were here last. Most of the faces are the same. A few are missing and looks like a couple of new faces. We met here and meet here again to honor our American Military men and women, who served in the United States armed forces and gave their all. That is the purpose of Memorial Day. It is a shame that we only pause to honor them only once a year.
For me, it is more about the history of our great nation and honoring those it took to get us and keep us free.
Men like famed Audie Murphy, the most decorated serviceman in WWII. Most youngsters don’t know of Audie. Many of you don’t know, Audie tried to get into the Marines, tried to get into the Air Force, tried to get into the Navy, rejected every time because he was too young and too small. He did manage to get into the Army by lying about his age. His deeds have since become part of American history, and at the age of 19 years old, Audie Murphy Received the Medal of Honor …I would like to tell you briefly of just one man from right here in Lopez.
Although there were many. This man had quite an understanding of engineering skills and had great abilities as an artist. He enlisted in the US Army on 20 January 1942 at Fort Mead, Maryland. On one of many operations in the Pacific Theater, this soldier got separated from his platoon. In trying to get back to his men, he got into a firefight with Japanese soldiers. After the smoke cleared, 30 Japanese lay dead. He continued on to meet up with his men saving them from ambush. On another occasion, he and a buddy took out a well-fortified machinegun nest while refusing to pull back after the weapon was shot out of his hands. he regained his weapon and it was again shot out of his hands losing two fingers. Both men suffered wounds. He received the PURPLE HEART, SILVER STAR, BRONZE STAR, PACIFIC THEATER RIBBON WITH THREE STARS, AND GOOD CONDUCT MEDALS. This man was Sergeant Herbert W. Rodda born 29 Nov 1918 right here in Lopez.
The schools today do not teach much about HOW we got here, or WHO got us here. Our US soldiers in two world wars and many other wars made us free and also freed many nations around the globe. The cost was great. Many soldiers were killed. Many were injured. Some were lucky.
Today I would like to honor the American Soldiers that gave their all and never came home. On foreign soil around the world, there are some 23 well-kept American Memorial Cemeteries that are a tribute to our American Soldiers. They are maintained to the highest degree with beautiful Memorials, walls or tablets listing missing in action, Chapels, and landscaping.
Cambridge American Cemetery in England
3812 American Soldiers
5127 Listed on the walls missing in action
Suren American Cemetery in France (Suresnes)
1565 American Soldiers there
974 missing in action
Muze Argon American Cemetery in France (Meuse Argonne)
Largest American Cemetery in Europe
14,246 American Soldiers
9 Medal Of Honor recipients
Aine Marn American Cemetery in France (Aisne Maene)
2289 American Soldiers rest there
1060 missing in action
Brookwood American Cemetery in England
468 of our military dead
563 missing in action
Some American Cemetery in France (Somme)
1844 graves of our military
3 Medal of Honor recipients
333 missing in action
Wasane American Cemetery in France (Oise-Aisne)
6012 of our soldiers resting there
241 missing in action
St. Meell American Cemetery in France (St. Mihiel)
4153 graves of our military dead
284 listed as missing
Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium
5323 brave soldiers rest there
462 are listed on plaques of the missing
Luxembourg American Cemetery Luxembourg
5076 Americans in graves there
371 listed as missing in action
Gen. George S. Patton is also resting there
Onree Chapell American Cemetery in Belgium
7992 American soldiers paid the ultimate
35 pairs of brothers resting there
450 are listed missing in action
Epinal American Cemetary in France
5255 of our soldiers rest there among 4 Medal of Honor recipients
424 listed as Missing in action
Lorraine American Cemetery in France
10,489 American soldiers resting there
444 listed as missing in action
Normandy American Cemetery in France
9387 American Soldiers in graves there
with 3 medal of honor recipients
35 sets of brothers are among those resting there
1557 listed on walls of the missing
Brittany American Cemetery in France
4410 American soldiers interred there
3 Medal Of Honor recipients
498 missing in action listed on the walls
Rhone American Cemetery in France
860 of our military remain there
294 listed as missing in action
Manila American Cemetery in Philippines
17,201 US military graves there
36,285 names on tablets of missing in action
Flanders Field American cemetery Belgium
368 US Military dead
43 names on walls of the missing
Florence American Cemetery Italy
4,402 US military dead
1,409 listed on tablets of the missing
Sicily-Rome American Cemetery Italy
7,861 American Military war dead
3,095 listed on walls of the missing
Netherlands American Cemetery Netherlands
8,301 of our military dead
1,722 names on tablets of the missing
North Africa American Cemetery Tunisia
2,841 of our military dead
The wall of missing lists 3,724 names
Mexico City national cemetery Mexico
813 Americans there in crypts
750 American unknown
Corozal American cemetery Panama
5,424 American Veterans
All lost their lives in the cause of Freedom.
This does not take into account those lost at sea.
It does not count those in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Nor does it count the hundreds of thousands of cemeteries around these United States like the six right here in Lopez. I hope this will help you comprehend the cost of freedom.
These Military Heroes gave up all of their tomorrows so we could have ours.
Freedom is not free.
It is the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the Military who
Salutes that flag, it is the Military who serves beneath that flag, and it is the Military whose coffin is draped by that flag.
You will hear TAPS (Last Post) in a few minutes. This is the 1862 version. The original version was written in 1801 by Daniel Butterfield and shortened to 24 notes in 1862. If you remain here after the troops are dismissed, you will hear the original played by 13-year-old Melissa Venema with Enrie Orchestra at the end.
GOD bless our armed forces
God bless America