One by one, like dominoes, our small town traditions fall and I wonder if they will ever return. The Wyoming/West Wyoming Memorial Day parade is canceled. It’s for our own good, but disappointing nonetheless.
We all have such happy childhood memories of the parade. People came from near and far to see the bands, cheerleaders, majorettes and color guards. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were there, and so were Little League players. Kids on bicycles with spokes decorated in red, white and blue crepe paper. Antique cars and convertibles carrying beautiful young women who waved to the throngs. People in cowboy attire rode horses followed by fire trucks carrying kids tossing candy.
Most who marched in the parades were too young to understand loss, but that is what the parade is about. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor those American heroes who were killed in war, fighting to ensure that our way of life could continue. It’s hard for those who haven’t served to imagine what it’s like to see a comrade fall, or to mourn if you haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one in a war miles away from home. Wars have been waged in other countries while we’ve gone on with our daily lives.
It became more real for me when I began traveling abroad. I’ll never forget the first time I saw an American cemetery on foreign soil, in Luxembourg. There were 5,100 graves, most killed in the Battle of the Bulge. I was passing in a car, unaware that it existed, and suddenly rows and rows of white tombstones with American flags appeared and a sadness, a homesickness, fell upon me.
Visiting London, touring St. Paul’s Cathedral, I discovered the American Memorial Chapel, with a leather bound, 500-page book of names of every American stationed in Britain who was killed in the Battle of Britain and in the fight for Europe right up to V-E Day. That’s 28,000 Americans. Every day names from two pages are read and those souls prayed for.
I walked through the American cemetery at Normandy, overlooking Omaha Beach, where 10,000 perfectly aligned white crosses and Stars of David face west, toward home. Except for the sound of the wind from the English Channel, the cemetery was silent. Solemn. There are no words when you walk through a place like that. I was given a little U.S. flag to place on a grave and I found a Pennsylvania boy. French families adopt American graves and lay flowers because we can’t. They remember for us. That’s what the dead want. To be remembered.
When our parade ends and the children run off for their ice cream and parents rush home to light the charcoal, our veterans keep going. Just when we think the parade is over, they turn in to the Wyoming Cemetery for the solemn part of the day, the really meaningful part. Last year, I kept going with them and watched as veterans spoke of fallen comrades in as moving a ceremony as I’ve ever seen. Silent men and women, hands on their hearts, gazing toward our flag, held back tears as a trumpeter played Taps. Those who served, and the families who love them, remember. It was the small town America that I love and that I miss when I travel overseas.
Until we can gather again, I hope we will find another way to honor our fallen war heroes. I hope everyone puts out a flag, church bells peal, and someone, somewhere, plays Taps. And I hope that in the absence of our traditions, we will realize their importance and renew our commitment to them. Jerry Stofko, vet and parade chairman, told me there will be no poppy sales this year, but flags will still be placed on the graves. Thank you to everyone who raises the money for those flags and takes the time to make sure every veteran’s grave has one. Pray for the men and women who lie in silent graves here and abroad because they died defending the nation they loved. Don’t let Memorial Day fall victim of this war.
Also, look for Hometown Heroes banners to go up in Wyoming and West Wyoming soon. Kiwanis is still taking orders, so if you want to honor a loved one, email email@example.com.
Wyoming, West Wyoming, and Exeter residents are eligible for free food from the Al Beech Food Pantry from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays at Church of Christ Uniting, 786 W. Market St., Kingston. Proof of income is not required, but proof of residence is. This is drive through only. Remain in your car and food will be placed in your trunk.
Chalk art contest
Wyoming Recreation is having a Children’s Chalk the Walk contest for Wyoming residents. Parents can register their children by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 18. Board members will come take pictures of the registered children’s chalk art on Tuesday, May 19, and first, second and third place winners will be announced Thursday, May 21.
• Yard waste, including grass, branches, leaves and weeds will be picked up in Wyoming the first and third Saturday through November. Dirt is not yard waste. Waste must be placed in reusable containers or 30-gallon paper bags. Branches must be tied in 4-foot lengths. Improper items may be left behind.
• If trash, recycling or yard waste is not picked up on the scheduled day, report it immediately to J.P. Mascaro at 1-800-243-7575 so they can dispatch workers. Also inform the borough.
• Residents can pay bills to the borough with credit cards online at wyomingpa.org. Sanitation fee of $250 is extended until July 15. After that, late fee is $300. Senior discount is $240. No cash will be accepted. Check or money order to Wyoming Borough Sanitation must be mailed or placed in the secure box outside the entrance of the building.
• County/municipal tax face period now ends Aug. 17.
West Wyoming trash bills
West Wyoming sanitation bills are due. All residents must pay this bill. The cost is $300. You can pay by credit card at www.westwyoming.org. Mastercard and Discover will be accepted.
• Waste Management will resume a limited bulk pick-up of one item per week per household. Bulk stickers are $35 for each item. To purchase a sticker, contact call 570 654-3001, ext. 2. Bulk items includes small furniture, carpet, mattress or an appliance.
• Council has extended the due date for the second quarter billing of the borough sewer payments to June 30.
• Refuse stickers are available at $130 for seniors and $180 for all other residents. Payment deadline has been extended with no penalty.
• The borough building is now closed to the public. All bills must be paid by mail or placed in the secure payment box outside the borough building. For information, call Lynda at 570-654-3001, ext. 2.
WA bagged lunch program
Wyoming Area is distributing lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the secondary center cafeteria side door.
Barbara Bullions writes about Exeter, Wyoming and West Wyoming. To list an item, email email@example.com or call 570-301-2185 by Monday.