On Friday, June 11th the Hokendaqua Jones-Quigg Legion Post held its 14th Annual Flag Disposal Ceremony. Pictured here: Post #739's Color Guard stands at attention as Sergeant-at-Arms Ron Furry inspects and properly disposes of one American Flag too damaged for further service. Hundreds of damaged and worn flags from veteran's graves all over the Lehigh Valley were disposed.
(Pictured here left to right: Ray Heil, Lehigh County Council 1st Vice Commander, soloists Andrea Bohner and Pam Hittinger, Mark W. Queen, District Commander, Ira's daughter and son, Linda Kline and Carson Smith, Ira Smith, Thomas Dye, Director of Veteran Affairs, Ron Rabenold, Dennis Kisthart, Lehigh County Council Chaplain, and Michael Bodnar, Lehigh County Council Commander.)
Before I start, I just want to thank all of you volunteers, you veterans for all your work here in Lehigh County, in preserving our patriotic traditions and providing this beautiful facility where we can honor and preserve the memory of our veterans. Thank you for having this ceremony and all the hours your volunteer promoting the patriotism of our country. You have my heartfelt gratitude.
You see, Ira’s not just a hero because he bled for his country, not just because he nearly died in a friendly fire bombing, not just because he suffered inhospitable conditions of the German camps.
He is a hero because he served, he sacrificed his time. And like the farmers of Lexington who first raised up arms in defense of freedom, of liberty, he gave of himself to the work, took on the fight of our country, as a true American patriot.
He returned to the Lehigh Valley after a one year rehabilitative stay at Valley Forge Veterans' Hospital. He married Geraldine Loy, and with his bent back and fused left wrist went off to work at the Trojan dynamite factory at Greenawalt’s. He went off to work, as all work horses do, not looking up from that the long row ahead, never complaining, just doing his duty.
To me, he is a hero in other ways. Getting to know him, you quickly realize that despite the injuries and insults he suffered, he holds not one shred of entitlement or resentment. The true measure of this man is his affable ease, his selfless sense of duty, and the lessons easily learned from his happy, contented life.
He & Geraldine raised a daughter Linda and a son Carson, and all the wonderful grandchildren followed. Their generous and thoughtful dispositions certainly proof of the love and care Geraldine and Ira instilled in them.
If you are lucky to know Ira, you are not only meeting a true American hero, but you touch history. You soon realize it was men like him who built this country, who fought for the freedom we can enjoy today comes from the sacrifice and duty shared from the burden of men like Ira.
It’s important to look back, to honor the memory of all those like Ira who knew their duty to their country.
Occasionally this old work horse goes back to visit his old farm in Kistler’s Valley, to relive the fond memories of his former life on the farm.
But like a good workhorse and like our flag, they are always moving forward.
Our country was built by these work horses like Ira Smith; who, quietly did their duty. We today benefit from the accumulation of wealth from many like him who came before us: our farmers, our miners, the great labor force of American immigrants who came here for freedom. And just as importantly, we enjoy our freedoms from those who stood ready to fight to preserve it. All of us here today are the fruits of what so many before us planted.
So each time you see our flag, rippling lightly in the breeze, as a bumper sticker on a car, or flying over a veteran’s grave,
Please remember the sweat, the toil, the pain and the blood the millions of men like Ira who served, fought and dreamed for our flag, and who kept it moving forward.
Let’s honor him today and always, by ensuring that our flag always moves forward.
Thank you for having me. It has been my pleasure to take part in honoring this man.