A weekend of remembrance

CDT photo

On the day before Memorial Day, Centre County already began remembering the fallen.

VFW and American Legion posts were part of about two dozen ceremonies scheduled at various cemeteries across the region, with 21-gun salutes, taps, prayer and laying of flowers all part of honoring American troops that made the ultimate sacrifice.

About 25 people gathered for a service conducted by members of American Legion and VFW posts from Pleasant Gap and Bellefonte at Zion Cemetery in Walker Township.

“It’s just a short service to remember our fallen comrades,” said Peter Serefine, commander of American Legion Post 867 in Pleasant Gap.

At the conclusion of the about 15-minute-long ceremony Sunday afternoon, American Legion Auxiliary member Jenny McCloskey placed flowers on the grave of W. Fred Mallory, a captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II who died in 1997.

Before she placed the red, white and blue bouquet in front of his tombstone, nothing stood there.

“Typically, we try to find a veteran that doesn’t have flowers on their grave,” McCloskey said.

The ceremony was one of the “proudest accomplishments” of Serefine’s time as commander of the legion post, the Navy veteran said. His post gets a lot of help from veterans groups in Bellefonte, but for the first time in decades, the post had enough people to field an honor guard made up solely of members of the Pleasant Gap group.

The honor guard would also take part in two other services Sunday evening, one at St. Mark Lutheran Church Cemetery in Pleasant Gap and another at their legion post, Serefine said.

Simultaneous flag raising was part of another ceremony Sunday. As has been done on patriotic holidays at Pine Hall Cemetery in Ferguson Township for 27 years, 50 spectators grabbed American flags and slid them up flagpoles placed throughout the cemetery in unison at exactly 3 p.m. Sunday.

The service featured patriotic songs performed by the Centre Heritage Singers and the taps and a salute by legionnaires from American Legion Post 245.

Kathy Brown, a local author, gave the memorial address at Pine Hall on Sunday. Of the more than 1,800 people interred at the cemetery, more than 300 were veterans of conflicts dating back to the Civil War, she said.

“It’s very moving that so many gather to honor those who have departed before us and their families,” she said.

More services are planned throughout the county in observation of Memorial Day throughout the county Monday, including events all day in Boalsburg, widely considered to be the birthplace of the holiday.