NORTH TOWANDA — Bradford County officials took time to remember the sacrifices of the nation’s veterans during a flag raising ceremony Friday outside of the new public safety center along Route 6 in North Towanda Township.
Friday’s ceremony marked the first time the American Flag had been raised at the facility, although construction continues inside with an anticipated opening after the new year. Commissioners originally scheduled the commemoration for Veterans Day, but had to postpone due to the rainy weather.
“The debt that we owe to our veterans is incalculable,” Commissioner Chairman Daryl Miller said before the crowd in attendance. “When you stop and think of the millions of men and women in the history of this country who have stepped up and signed their name on the bottom line to protect us and the freedoms and liberties we enjoy every day, our way of life, the thank you we give them is hardly enough for what they’ve done.”
Miller recalled the story of a man he knew his entire life who closed his business to join the World War II effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“This is emblematic of what it means to serve your country,” he added. “ … This story is repeated time and time again throughout history. They do it selflessly and they do it willingly.”
Commissioners Doug McLinko reflected on his veteran father, who he called the “toughest guy I know, the hero of my life.”
“Those men and women were ordinary people until they heard that call of duty and answered it,” said Bradford County Veterans Affairs Director Pete Miller. “They left their families, they left their homes, their lives, not for recognition or fame, or even the honor we bestow on them today, they fought to protect our country and maintain our way of life. As we honor our veterans and remember their great deeds, let us salute those who are currently fighting for our freedom. The current war situation has helped us realize how truly unique the American way of life is. The freedom we enjoy is extremely special, and that is why we have to defend it.”
Pete Miller highlighted some of the other veterans in attendance at Friday’s ceremony, including Bradford County Maintenance Director Rod Manley (U.S. Army), Emergency Management Coordinator Sarah Neeley (U.S. Air Force and current Air National Guard), construction workers David Zackus and Joyssen Gonzalez (U.S. Army), and Commissioner John Sullivan (U.S. Army).
Sullivan said he gets messages of recognition on his birthday and Father’s Day, but those he receives on Veterans Day are even more special.
Sullivan referenced the Winston Churchill quote, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much been owed by so many to so few,” which was spoken about the Royal Air Force fighting the Germans in the Battle of Britain.
“I think it’s appropriate for all veterans with how much we owe all of them,” he said, while adding additional recognition to responders and health care workers.
Commissioner Miller thanked the color guard, which was made up of members of the Towanda American Legion, VFW, and Sons of the American Legion, for helping with the inaugural flag raising, and the other men and women who have put their lives on the line for the country throughout its history.
The Wysox and Towanda fire departments also took part in Friday’s ceremony, using their ladder trucks to raise a giant American flag that inspired some passing on Route 6 to honk their horns to show their support.
“Those looking to defend America’s freedoms don’t necessarily have to be members of the armed forces,” Pete Miller added. “People can vote, speak out about injustices, or volunteer their time in their local community so that those who are disadvantaged can enjoy the country’s freedoms more.”
Reflecting on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and others days reserved to honor veterans, McLinko said, “It’s a day to celebrate and thank these men and women who protect our country, who give so selflessly to protect us so we can have a right to vote like we did last Tuesday, we can assemble today, speak our minds. So, men and women who have served, thank you very much.”