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Presbyterians to celebrate 143rd Memorial Day

At 10:30 a.m. worship this Sunday, May 27, the 80 members of Tyrone Presbyterian Church will celebrate the 143rd Anniversary Of Memorial Day as they reflect on Pledges, Prayers, Poems, Parks and Patriotic Purposes.
The Worship Service will open when Air Force Veteran and Long-Term Church Member Robert M. Keatley leads the audience in The Pledge To The American Flag. Flag Historians note that Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy composed The American Flag Pledge on September 7, 1892. The Flag Pledge first appeared in a magazine entitled Youth Companions (a forerunner of The Reader’s Digest), along with advertisements selling flags to Young People. Bellamy designed The Flag Pledge for recitation by hundreds of New York City school children in fifteen seconds on October 12, 1892. That date marked the 400th Anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in The New World.
The earliest Flag Pledge lacked the famous phrase Under God. In 1951, the Catholic Knights Of Columbus began to campaign to have Congress insert the phrase Under God into The Flag Pledge. In 1954, after President Dwight D. Eisenhower heard a stirring Sermon by The Reverend George MacPherson Docherty at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church located near The White House, the President encouraged Congress to insert Under God in The Flag Pledge. It happened in a matter of days. Pastor Docherty succeeded the famous Peter Marshall as Pastor of that Washington Presbyterian Church, and as a senior citizen has resided for a time at Westminster Woods Presbyterian Retirement Home, near Orbisonia, Pennsylvania.
Following The Flag Pledge, The Children’s Sunday School Choir will lead the congregation in singing Irving Berlin’s 1918 Musical Prayer entitled God Bless America. While he served in The Army, Irving Berlin, a Jewish Immigrant from Siberia, composed God Bless America in 1918 for use as A March in A Musical Military Revue. At the time, Berlin considered his Patriotic Prayer inappropriate for The Army Revue, so he set it aside until 1938. In 1938, as Hitler and his Nazi Regime flourished across Europe, soprano Kate Smith resurrected God Bless America for a Veteran’s Day Radio Celebration in that November, just three short years before America entered World War II. The song became an instantaneous success and remained so throughout World War II. Many baseball park organists utilized this Patriotic Prayer as game exit music over the years. Comedian Woody Guthrie detested Berlin’s Song and wrote A Protest Song entitled This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land. Guthrie’s song also has enjoyed a wide measure of patriotic popularity. Of course, after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, God Bless America became the preferred Patriotic Prayer for many A Civic Memorial Service.
After The Presbyterian Children’s Choir has completed their rendition of Berlin’s 1918 God Bless America, Ninth Grader and Boy Scout Logan Harper will present a 1998 Poem by Gene Scheer entitled American Anthem. Harper, a member of Scout Troop 300 and the eldest son of James and Teresa Laird Harper of Decker Hollow, interviewed Air Force Veteran Robert Keatley as part of his End Of The Year American History Project in an effort to gain insights into The Struggles Of World War II Soldiers. As a token of his appreciation on this 143rd Anniversary Of Memorial Day, Harper will pay tribute to Mr. Keatley as well as to All Tyrone Soldiers and Veterans by reading Gene Scheer’s Poem American Anthem. Following Harper’s Rendition of this Patriotic Poem, Presbyterian Organist Richard Merryman will perform the musical version of Scheer’s Poem on The Church’s Baldwin Grand Piano, donated in 1935 by Mrs. Adda Gray.
During Harper’s Poetic Presentation and Merryman’s Piano Performance, the audience will have opportunity to reflect about Tyrone’s Soldier’s Park, located along Lincoln Avenue, across from The American Legion Home. On November 11, 1947, The Tyrone Garden Club established Soldier’s Park as a Memorial to all of those people from Tyrone who gave their last full measure of devotion in Service To Their Country. A statue of a World War I Doughboy has stood as The Focal Point of Soldier’s Park since 1947. Originally, The Tyrone World War I Soldier Charles H. Cassidy Sr. posed for this Doughboy Statue. On May 30, 1921, the Pennsylvania Railroad presented the people of Tyrone with this Doughboy Replica, along with a plaque engraved with the names of those Tyrone Soldiers who had lost their lives in World War I. Until 1947, The Doughboy Statue stood adjacent to The Tyrone Railroad Station. Then, The Tyrone Garden Club moved it to Soldier’s Park, where it rests on a base constructed of river stone taken from Dry Run. The Original Rock, which under girded The Doughboy Soldier, remained at The Railroad Park because it proved too heavy to travel over The Fragile 1947 Bridge spanning The Little Juniata River, adjacent to Burley’s Restaurant. The soil underneath this Revitalized Doughboy Statue in Soldier’s Park came from The Fourteen Cemeteries surrounding Tyrone. That soil serves as A Symbol that this Monument memorializes ALL Tyrone Soldiers who lost their lives in this Nation’s Wars in defense of Freedom.
In addition to reflecting about Tyrone’s Soldier’s Park, participants at this Sunday’s Presbyterian Memorial Service will also have opportunity to consider The Purpose behind Memorial or Decoration Day. 143 years ago in 1864, in the nearby Village Of Boalsburg, as The Civil War drew to a close, Emma Hunter, Sophie Keller, and Elizabeth Meyers wended their way to The Boalsburg Cemetery to strew wildflowers on the graves of loved ones who had lost their lives in The Bloody Battle Of Gettysburg in the previous July Of 1863. With The Patriotic Gesture of those three women, Decoration or Memorial Day was born in Boalsburg 143 years ago in 1864, near the close of The Civil War. United in their Common Grief, these three women agreed to meet The Next Year, once again to remember their Fallen Loved Ones with flowers.
What a Powerful Surprise arrived The Next Year when ALL The People of Boalsburg joined these three Patriotic Women to decorate ALL The Graves in that Quaint Cemetery. Diaries indicate that not one grave in that resting place was left untended on that day in 1865. In 1868, General John Logan proclaimed May 30, 1868 as a day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their Country.” And so this Opening Holiday Of The Summer has remained for the past 143 years, sometimes called Decoration Day and other times christened Memorial Day. In 1971, President Nixon signed into Law a Bill that moved Memorial Day from May 30 to The Final Monday of May each year.
As The People Of Tyrone prepare for this Memorial Day, Tyrone Presbyterians invite interested citizens to attend their 10:30 a.m. Worship Service this Sunday, May 27 where one of the themes of The Day will find eloquent expression in this Patriotic Poem Scout Logan Harper will read in tribute to all Tyrone Soldiers and Veterans: All we’ve been given by those who came before / The Dream Of A Nation where Freedom would endure / The Work and Prayers of Centuries have brought us to this day / What shall be our Legacy? What will our Children say? / Each Generation, from The Plains to Distant Shore / With The Gifts they were given, were determined to give more / Valiant Battles fought together, Acts Of Conscience fought alone / These are The Seeds from which America has grown / For those who think they have nothing to share / Who fear in their Hearts there is no Hero there / Know that Quiet Acts Of Dignity will help to fortify / The Soul Of A Nation that never, never dies / Let them say of me I was one who believed / In sharing The Blessings I received / Let me know in My Heart when My Days are through / America! America! I gave My Best for You!