Friday, December 14, 2012

Of Monarchs and Other Metaphors

Of Monarchs and Other Metaphors
Creation is soul-searching.  Nothing is ever finished. ~Carl Ruggles

Regina Tauke of Northampton County is a
volunteer for the University of Kansas here
collecting Monarchs in the Lehigh Gap.
It is unknown what they truly know, but these Monarchs know their place.  The late Summer Monarch foregoes the normal creation cycle and devotes itself to travel.  These travelers live for eight months!  Compare that to the lives of the ones who live at the breeding site, of just weeks.  This traveling generation winter in the Transvolcanic Mountains of Mexico.

(A monarch born here at the end of August, will make the migration to Mexico, winter there, and will migrate back to their breeding site in and around April in time for the emergence of the plants they need to survive and lay their eggs on, all a delicate pattern of balance and interdependence of nature's other life cycles.)

I met Regina Tauke in the waning days of summer.  She’s a volunteer collector for the University of Kansas (Try  She was catching butterflies just north of the Lehigh Gap on the D & L Rail Trail.  Things were going well until the wind picked up. 

She caught and tagged sixteen in three hours.  The last male we tagged “RCM 180” with a telephone number to call if this insect was found.  Regina saw the telltale black bump near the bottom outside corner of the wing.  This is thought to be a vestigial scent gland of the male.  (Just like white-tail bucks have scent glands that does don't.)

Here a male Monarch gets tagged with "RCM186."

I saw firsthand how delicate a process it is.  Catching them on the perch is preferred over catching on the fly to reduce injury.  The adhesive sticker is placed on the “mitten” shaped cell at the center of the wing.  This is the best spot to tag Regina says.  It keeps the extra weight near the center of mass so it doesn’t impede or burden their flight more than necessary.

There is a cause behind this hobby.  Monarch numbers are down due to a number of factors: this summer’s drought, pesticides, loss of habitat and more.

Each tag used will be carefully recorded
in her log book and sent to the university.
Particularly alarming to future generations is the use of Roundup Ready Seeds.  These allow farmers to blanket their crops with herbicide, killing weeds (such as milkweed) between the rows.  Milkweed is the only plant Monarchs will lay their eggs upon because they are the only leaves the larvae will eat.  And so begins the destabilization of the life cycle.

It is a fascinating cycle.  There are about four generation cycles over the summer.  But something happens on the final one.  The shortening daylight and the cooler days of late summer trigger a biologically and behaviorally different Monarch to emerge.

A summertime Monarch lives about three to four weeks.  The last generation, the migratory one, lives eight to nine months.  Their return 3,000 miles later in Spring ends with the laying of eggs on the milkweed plant. 

All Monarchs east of the Rockies roost in Mexico or in southern Florida.  The eastern Monarchs use the thermals of the Appalachian Mountains to assist their soaring south.  They collect nectar as they go, actually gaining weight on their journey. 
Male "RCM186" about to be released.

They cluster by the millions in each of the eleven to fourteen sites located in the near-freezing mists of Mexico’s oyamel fir tree forests.  The canopy helps protect them from freezing snowstorms, yet allow them to stay cool enough to slow their metabolism, sustaining themselves throughout their winter dormancy.

Meeting Regina and learning more about Monarchs was an unexpected gift.

No other animal migrates and cycles like the Monarch.  Untold and unseen generations follow in their figurative contrails. 

Life in Carbon would go on even without these seasonal visitors, but like so much in life, it is sometimes the smallest of things that carry a great weight.

They may not know their part in the cycle, they may not know their children, and they certainly don’t know the fourth generation that repeats their feat the following year.

Their greatest gift to us may be the lesson of how to live in the present, fulfilling our daily roles, being mindful of the past while careful to complete what determines our future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Veteran's Day with Dad at Legion Post #314

Randy Rabenold's graduation picture from Parris Island.  He's 6th from the right in the second row.

Complete Story of Randy Rabenold's service in the Marine Corps in Korea up to the Inchon Invasion Part ONE

Rabenold's story from Inchon to the Chosin Reservoir Part TWO

Rabenold and the Bulldogs - Part THREE

For Randy's Trench Art from Korea 

Memorial Day 2013 Presentation of the Rabenold and First Marines in Korea

I spent Veteran's Day with my Dad at our Legion.  It was a good afternoon: I got to hear about frostbite in the Alps before the Battle of the Bulge and other good stories, Dad hit $200 on a raffle, and we talked sports with the gang.  Brother Rick stopped by too.  I got to hear Dad say "Happy Birthday" to every Marine who walked in the door.  I learned how the Marines are 1 year older than our country.  They were formed in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia in 1775 on November 10th.  I got to thank several veterans for their service too.

On Friday, Dad came to my classroom and shared his stories with two of my classes.  Then, our Student Council hosted several community veterans, including faculty members who served, for a lunch.  Dad was presented with an encased flag.

It was a special day.

Did I mention that I got to spend some time with my Dad?

Thanks for serving Dad.

Other Veteran's Day posts on this site:

2010 Flag Disposal Ceremony Speech for Ira Smith

2011 Memorial Day Speech and Local Veteran Stories

2012 Memorial Day Speech and Local Veteran Stories

Ira F. Smith Goes to War

Ira Comes Home - After 72 Years

Dad's machine gun crew in Korea.  With Frenchie Labeau from New Orleans far right and Greenie from Massachusetts
second from right.  Dad carries this picture everywhere he goes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

4th Annual Fall Hike to Mt. Pisgah

A quick historical overview and time at the scenic
overlook, the hikers head toward the Hacklebernie
Tunnel, first driven in 1824 (said to be the oldest
tunnel in North America).
Our most well attended hike so far: kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  A cool windy day, but it was nice getting out after being hunkered down during the stormy weather of the past week.  Over 70 attended: Thanks for getting our youth out and introduced to the outdoors.
Click the following links for information and history about the famous Switchback Railroad and the Hacklebernie Tunnel:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Following the Path of Reason

The more I read, the more reaffirmed I become about our life here, and how we must care for one another.  It doesn't matter where your spiritual nature derives its direction, I know we all are heading in the same direction of purpose, if we are true to that guiding voice.  I got into this race because of my firm belief in the power of the individual.  Each one of us has a brilliant spark of God in us.
Ron Rabenold gets his message out to eager Democratic
voters this July in Jim Thorpe.

One writer, Joseph M. Marshall III, brings that point home and how our lives are full of contradictions.  Within us is the will to win, and the willingness to lose.  Within our hearts is the ability to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant.  Within us is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it.

Being on this campaign trail for many months has shown me a lot about the people of Carbon County.  People who wish to aspire and people who are in despair.  People who want to succeed and people facing failures.  And, living in a county with the second highest unemployment in the state for such a long time, people seem to be immured by the grimness of it all.

As a teacher who takes his mission to bring out the best in each child seriously, I can see these contradictions every day.   Our society has a responsibility to our youth to engage and evoke the best within each one, whether that student’s aptitude leans toward a technical profession, a service job or one with entrepreneurial skill.

We have one of the wealthiest societies on the planet, yet so many are stuck in a cycle of poverty.  The number one predictor of academic success is not the strength of our schools, but the socio-economic level of the child’s family. 

If we continue to underfund and devalue our educational system, we risk losing important leveling programs such as Headstart and remedial programs that boost skills at the crucial early years of a child’s development.  Some schools have not only scaled back from having full-day Kindergarten to not having any Kindergarten at all.  Some schools have eliminated school librarians all as a reaction to the deepest educational cuts in anyone’s memory.

Show me how someone votes and you will see their values.  My opponent voted for the nearly $1 billion in cuts to the education funding, the hardest hit area by far of any of the state cuts last year.  My opponent also voted to allow the natural gas hydraulic fracturing industry to avoid paying a commensurate royalty of the Commonwealth’s resource, as other states have done, which could have helped defray some of these harmful cuts.
Hydraulic fracturing is in full boom in PA, while other
states are taking a cautious approach, PA doesn't seem
to be concerned for long-term ill effects nor does it
seem to capitalize on the resource for benefit of PA.

I can say that I am happy our legislature was able to deliver a balanced budget, something I have done in my own household.  I can’t say though I would have achieved it in the same way.  The boom of natural gas being produced here may be coming at a cost to the water supply of the surrounding areas and we are not collecting much of any fee to remediate any problems to the land.  (See Duke University study from July 2012 that shows connectivity from the shale to the aquifer.)

Opponents of a severance tax cite we will all pay more in the end for the gas.  This is not good logic, as the price is traded on the free market, subject to global demands and speculation.  We are alone among states with gas, barely collecting any revenue from it.  Other states collect four to seven percent and reap the benefit of lower property taxes from their drilling revenues.

What I find most disheartening of our current political climate is how facts are intentionally misrepresented for political popularity.   My opponent states on his campaign literature that he does not accept the state owned vehicle, a very noble aim if you wish to truly save on taxpayer expense.  But what he doesn’t state is how much he collects from taxpayers on mileage and lodging.  In his year and a half as our state representative, he has billed the taxpayer $57,794.64.  Perhaps the state owned car would have been less expensive.

Another time, when we both were speaking to the Carbon Labor Council in April, my opponent stated that the governor’s budget actually increased spending in education.  What he was hoping everyone would believe is that by coupling pension costs with the basic education subsidy it would appear to the public as an increase when in fact it was decreased by approximately $800,000.
A July report from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School
of Law, a public policy group that opposed many of the voting rule changes nationally,
estimated that more than 10 million eligible voters nationwide live more than 10 miles
from a state center that issues IDs.

No one that I know, Democrat or Republican wants to allow anyone to vote who doesn’t have the right to do so.  Rep. Heffley stated that it is a problem “seen in heavy doses across the state.”  But our current governor and legislature passed a measure to stop in-person voter fraud when not a single case of it has occurred in Pennsylvania. 
On his recent ruling on the case, Judge Robert E.
Simpson Jr. said those without proper ID can
simply vote by Absentee Ballot.  But the ballot
clearly states only 2 reasons to be eligible:
1. Absence from your voting precinct on election day,
and 2. medical reasons.  Is the judge giving his legal
blessing to ignore this legal entanglement?

It is estimated that 12.34% of the 37,777 Carbon voters do not have acceptable PennDOT identification.  And by my opponent’s own admission, “voter fraud cases haven’t been recorded in Carbon County”, he is sticking by his decision to vote for a measure that could prevent some of our law-abiding citizens their most basic constitutional right.  We have Rep. Turzai’s own admission the bill was passed to get Gov. Romney elected. 

This political climate speculates on fear and the game of politics rather than working toward solid policy.  This, in the absence of reason, is most troubling.  We must put this aside so that we can provide opportunities for our youth that will prepare them to contribute to our society in ways still unknown even to them.  We must instill that education is not a burden on our society, but rather it is the very thing that sustains it, and causes it to thrive.

We need politicians who will use their wisdom for reason, not for politics. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Filling the Bathtub with Gene Autry’s Money

Gene Autry was brought to
Lehighton by a train
and a need to get
his saddle fixed.  He put country
music into the mainstream, our
most famous singing cowboy.
He was the real deal.
(This article first appeared July 2012 in Al Zagofsky's "Carbon County Magazine.")

Everyone knows how to fill a bathtub.  The key is to put more water into it than is allowed to drain out.
Same is true for our local economy.  Keep more money here than we allow to leave.
Both of my grandfathers made the jump from farm-life to business in the early 1900s.  Cal Haas worked hard as a bread deliveryman for two bakeries to raise enough dough (couldn’t resist) to build his own general store in 1930. 
My grandfather Cal Haas is on the left.
A 2-seat carriage ride was part of his life led
him to delivering bread and later groceries.
He even borrowed a team and a sleigh to
deliver in the snow.
Cal promoting Freihofer's "Sonny Boy" bread.
A photo of the store owner holding their bread
was a common sight in many corner stores.
This 20"x28" photo hung at Haas' most of their
60+ years.

 Zach Rabenold was a welder at the Packerton Yard Shops.  On the side, he ran a tack shop in his backyard, one of his many leftover farm skills.  One day, Gene Autry and his entourage were passing through town and needed saddle work done.  Both Zach and Lehighton now had Autry’s money in our bathtub. 

Zach and his brother George worked during a time of much labor unrest
in the Packerton Yards.  It was a time when some of the men turned to violence
for better wages and working conditions.  One group even attempted
to blow up the Packerton Dam, which supplied the yards with water,
in an attempt to bring attention to their plight.
We are really fortunate here in Carbon County to have so much natural beauty that people can live in a place so many love to visit here to play.   (Rand McNally lists Jim Thorpe one of its ten best small towns in America.)  We have a good tourism infrastructure that continues to improve as we add more bike riding trails and more access to them.  Trails that bring tourists here to spend money earned elsewhere.

We have manufacturing too.  KME Kovatch and their  700-employees are set to send 100 trucks to China.  (Yes, EXPORTING to China at $500,000 a pop!)  They also have a large pending order to New York City, as well as many other major cities including Los Angeles.    You could say the Kovatch family and Nesquehoning are certainly doing their share to fill up the tub.

This is my Uncle Robert Haas on the last day of the store,
removing the letters from the store he owned for 30+ years
that his father started in 1930.
The same cannot be said of other corporations.  It is estimated that 70% of Pennsylvania corporations pay no corporate tax.  We can be glad that Wal Mart and Lowes have come here.  They do infuse new commerce here.  But their lack of paying Pennsylvania tax puts an undue tax burden on our smaller businesses, not to mention the business they take from them.
You could have asked my Uncle Bobby Haas about that in 1996.  That’s the year he had to close my grandfather’s corner grocery store.  I could mention other small businesses that have since closed as well.  Even though Kovatch is our largest manufacturer, they cannot compete with other large multi-state corporations with more tax loopholes to play in. 

Most of our Carbon businesses pay too much in taxes because of the sweetheart deals the much larger corporations get.  But Governor Corbett wants to continue giving big business big tax breaks that send our hard-earned money out of the state and out of the country (i.e. Royal Dutch Shell Oil is getting a $1.7 billion dollar tax credit from our Governor and General Assembly.  Dutch Shell is on pace to make a $30 billion profit this year.)

Our huge reserves of natural gas here in Pennsylvania should be filling our tub to the brim.  But there are some large holes in it.  Sadly, most of the natural gas drilling jobs created have been filled by out of state guest workers from places like Texas and Oklahoma and most of these workers stay here 2 weeks and go home for 2 weeks to spend most of their paychecks back home, sending more money down our drain.

Haas' Store after the remodeling of the early 1970s.
We own the most gas of any state yet we collect almost nothing from this state resource.  It has been a boom for the areas that have it, but the rest of the state earns nothing.  This and other leaks like the Delaware-loophole are draining away money that should stay here.  (We must plug it up the right way, not the way Governor Corbett has proposed.)

I owe my parents for instilling these insights in me, for they taught me how to always try to buy local.  Like my parents, I have never left town to buy a car.  Every washer, dryer, air conditioner, stove, etc was bought at one of two local businesses.   We have always been loyal to our small town businesses.

Zach relaxing at Flagstaff Park in the 1920s.
But we also need to make our tub ready to receive money.  We have many strengths here: we have manufacturing, we have biking, rafting  and skiing, we have green energy in our Nesquehoning solar field, we have an agricultural economy, we have a rock-solid work-ethic here.  If we invest more in ourselves, nothing will hold us back.
My grandfather's shop as it looks today.

The "Shop" as we all knew it, as it looked one spring
in the early 1970s.

Gene Autry coming to town is a forgotten footnote in our past.  But that doesn’t minimize the lesson in it.   Had we not had a rail line through town, he would not have stopped here.  Had no one here had the skills he was looking for, he would have
spent his money elsewhere.

My grandfather and Gene Autry are long passed away, though Zach’s quaint Lehighton tack shop still stands at 9th and Mahoning Streets.   Who knows when the next Gene Autry may plan a visit here?  If we are wise, we will create ways to always be ready to attract and receive opportunities here.
The time is now to invest in the people and the promise of Carbon County.  We shouldn’t be foolish with any our resources and certainly not our greatest resource, our youth.  It’s time to put our emphasis on preparing them for the future, to ensure we have a skilled-workforce ready to meet the new needs of this ever changing economy. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Time of Renewal

Here is a story I posted on Al Zagofsky's e-zine "Carbon County Magazine" back in March.  It has been my pleasure to be a regular contributor to this effort that chronicles our lives here in Carbon.  Out of respect to Al, I always wait until after he publishes to re-post my stories here on my blog.  Please follow this link to his site and subscribe to this free and quality resource that serves our region with information you will not find anywhere else.  Be sure to watch for my up coming story due out in a few days entitled, "Filling Our Bathtub with Gene Autry's Money."  Enjoy and thanks for checking in again.

Late Spring in the Lehigh Gorge, facing north: Glen Onoko is out of frame to the left, the former Hotel Wahnetah site out of frame to the right, from atop the old Jersey Central Railroad Tunnel at Glen Onoko.

Springtime is a time of renewal.  Even though it hasn’t been too wintry, it is still nature’s time to awake from a long winter’s nap.

It is also “Keep America Beautiful” month, the month we celebrate “Earth Day,” and of course it is the time of the eternally spring holiday of Easter, which represents the most important renewal of all.
We are fortunate to live in this county with the kind of natural beauty that draws people from far and wide.  I am quite fond of our biking trails and I cherish the State Game Lands where my family and I have hunted all our lives.  This place is our heritage.

But nature’s ability to renew itself can easily fall behind the pace of our consumption.  The Easter Islands have hundreds of stoic statues to remind us of this.  By the early 1700s, the native people there virtually eliminated themselves.  They outstripped their own food supply by cutting down too many coconut trees, which they used to roll the statues from their quarry to the coast.

So how can we ensure our sustainability here in Carbon?  Perhaps a few simple things, like using dishtowels more than paper towels, or using safer household cleaning products.  What about all those seemingly countless recharging cords?  We could plug them into power strips that are turned off when we’re not home.  Can we say this is enough?

Besides helping out on my friend’s tree farm for many years, I have always enjoyed cultivating trees of my own.  On our 5-acre homestead, I’ve made a determined effort to grow more trees than I’ve cut down.   (So far I’ve planted over 26 to the 4 I’ve had to cut down in the past 20 years.)  Trees are something that transcend our enjoyment and go beyond us in time.  But we consume a lot of trees in the amount of paper and cardboard each of us is responsible for.  It is hard to imagine ever being able to keep up with all we consume.

We at times have been hard on our environment here.  If we look for it, we can still find man-made impacts nature and man have yet to fully renew.  The Blue Mountain in southern Carbon is just now showing signs of renewed life from the decades of destructive pollution from zinc smelting.  (Danny Kunkle of Lehighton deserves much credit for the progress there.)  In northern Carbon, we still find culm piles and stripping pits.  The land seems to always remember what we have done here.

The water remembers, too.  One of my favorite biking trails through the Lehigh Gorge runs along the Black Creek that enters the Lehigh from Weatherly.  The water appears to be pristine; the rocks are clean, the water clear.  But a closer look finds almost nothing living there.  Moss doesn’t even grow on the rocks.  This stream continues to have high ph levels from mine runoff and is contaminated with heavy metals from a beryllium plant.  Despite the passage of time and remediation attempts, it is still devoid of the once plentiful brook and brown trout once native there.

One of the cautionary lessons I relay to my students is on how little our culture seems to embrace delayed gratification today.  Everything must be done instantly.  This impatience and lack of goal-directed behavior comes with a cost.  The American video game addiction alone accounts for the amount of electricity to power all of San Diego each day.  Just to play games! 

We are even taking shortcuts on the food we eat.  Did you realize most large non-family farms use “Round-ReadyTM” seeds?  These herbicide-tolerant seeds are engineered to enable our food crops to withstand doses of herbicides that would otherwise kill them.  Are we sure of what all this could be doing to the food we eat?  How about our water?  Did we not learn the lessons of DDT in the 1970s?

I am disheartened that our state’s abundant wealth of natural gas is weakly legislated.   Our current law doesn’t generate enough revenue to offset the environmental risk.  (We rank last of all states in severance tax and environmental oversight.)  Our potential environmental risk is high, yet the reward is minimal at best.  How will we pay for the clean-up when our water supply turns up contaminated?  Where will we turn for water and how much will that cost?

We cannot afford to be foolish with the resources that sustain us.  This beautiful county of ours will continue to serve us well if we do the same.  We must remember, as the land does, that we are stewards here, for ourselves and our posterity.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Remember Those Who Served - Union Hill

On behalf of those who have served, buried here, in the ground at our feet, I thank you for being here.

As Lehighton native, Major General Marvin Jay Barry reminded us at a program at the Middle School: Freedom is not Free.  Therefore it is incumbent upon us to hallow this day, to remember those who have served this great country of ours.

Your presence here, honors them.

We cannot measure what each one of them did for us. 

As a local historian, I have walked many of these grave yards for years, trying to root out their stories, to make their presence known to the students and in our community, and I have found that Carbon County has never had a shortage of citizens willing to pitch in for the common good. 

And this small community of Union Hill has produced many.  

The Held home on Union Hill as it looked before World War II
In World War I, Hal Hongen died in base hospital #17 in Dijon France.

Though his body is not there, his parents noted his
life on their family tombstone in Union Hill Cemetery.
In World War II, there are three among the KIA there of particular note: Walter Haydt was a radioman on a B-24 Liberator.  He and his crew crashed on Hinchinbrook Island, Australia on December 18, 1942.  Elwood Miller was killed at the battle of Guadalcanal Island in 1943.  And Reed G. Held was shot down sometime after December 31, 1943.   He was a college graduate and entered the navy as an ensign.  The navy sent him to M.I.T. to study advance radar systems.  It is said he was on a surveillance mission when he was shot down, which is why the full story was never revealed. 
The tail piece of Haydt's "Texas Terror" B-24 Liberator
discovered in 1944 on Hinchinbrook Island
Australia.  The flight was carrying $100,000.

Although neither Haydt’s or Held’s body was ever recovered the remains of Haydt's crew was discovered a few years later on Hinchinbrook Island, Australia.  The Air Force sent in a team and tenderly relocated the remains of the crew to North Platte, Nebraska.  Haydt was a radiomen on the 90th Bomb Group crew.

The plane was carrying $100,000 in troop payroll.  Discovery of the wreckage was helped after aborigines were found spending the US currency.  There are several mysteries connected with the flight, one includes extra male personal that weren't originally accounted for.  No women were known to be aboard but a red stiletto heeled shoe was found.     
Memorial dedicated to the crash victims at
the site.

Close-up of site memorial.  Walter
Haydt was the radio operator in the "Texas
Terror" B-24 Liberator.

Reed Held was known to be on a secret Cold War flight also in the Pacific area when he was shot down.  

Residents should remember these fallen sons each time they drive on Held Street, where Reed was raised.  The Shoemaker-Haydt Lehighton Legion Post #314 is named for Walter and the Elwood M. Miller AmVets Post in Lehighton honors Elwood.
Another Union Hill son goes down in the Pacific - Elwood M.
Miller.  His death was commemorated with the naming of
the Elwood M. Miller AmVets Post in Lehighton.

And the Held home on Held Street as it looks today.
Purchased shortly after the death of Reed's father Marvin in 1995,
the home has been tastefully restored by Kelli and Steve Rex. 

John Penberth died at Iwo Jima in spring of 1945.

After son John died at Iwo Jima in 1945, parents
Edwin and Mary son followed.
One can only imagine the strains a family must bear.  Haydt’s parents agonized for months to know his fate.  One Marine buried here, John Penberth, died at Iwo Jima, March 1945.  His mother Mary died five years later.  His father Edwin followed her in another five years.  All three are buried together in Union Hill Cemetery.

In Korea, Richard Whiteman died battling the Chinese on October 18th, 1952. 

Andrea Beth Miller was murdered in her apartment
in Germany on Christmas Day, 1984.  To date, the
circumstances are a mystery.
The most recent soldier killed while in service buried here is Sgt. Andrea Beth Miller.  She was only 22 when she died in 1984 while stationed in West Germany.  She was a 1980 Lehighton graduate and a member of the bandfront.

So many men and women were unable to come home. 

How can we measure their loss to their families?  To their friends?  To their community?

We too, must recognize the service of those who did return.  And their service often times did not end there.  Many came home and served their communities.

Walter Haydt’s brother Earl was wounded twice in Europe.  Struggling with frostbite at the Battle of the Bulge, he desperately took the boots of a dead soldier to save his own feet.  The Haydt’s nearly lost a second son when Earl caught shrapnel from a bomb that killed many in his unit.

Clarence Getz, brother to Bob, served in WWII and
Jacob's United Church of Christ in Weissport.

Parents of Bob and Clarence Getz.
Ray Haydt is now the last survivor of his family.  He still lives on Union Hill and is the oldest native resident there.  Though he was drafted and he tried to enlist, he was 4-F due to his irregular heartbeat and ear issues.  But still, he serves his community in the Franklin Lions and at Jacob’s United Church of Christ. 

Two other men of distinction who served in WWII and Jacob's United Church of Christ are Robert and Clarence Getz.  They came to Union Hill from Albrightsville.  Their father Issac died quite young in 1927 and their mother Lauretta did her best to hold her large family together.  Bob still lives in Lehighton though his dear wife Jane recently passed away.  His brother Clarence died in 1997 and was a major influence on the musical service at the church for many years after the war and is still kindly remembered there.  Bob still sings on the choir.    

Ernie Bauer came home from the Great War and lived a humble life here on Union Hill.  I wish I had appreciated then his service.  He is one who selflessly gave.  Ernie lived in the old brethren church at the end of Fairview Street.  I remember his tireless work in our church as I was growing up, as with an unassuming smile, hiding his sacrifice in the great war.

Ernest and Vivian Bauer's home as it looks today
at the end of Fairview Street.  It was built in 1894
by the Brethren Church that eventually became
Salem Bible Fellowship Church.

Harry Steigerwalt came home and became a Scout Leader like so many other servicemen.

My dad Randy Rabenold ran the Jim Thorpe Summer Basketball league for 50 years and also worked with the Volunteers for Literacy after coming home from the war in Korea.

The list goes on and on.  Many stand as pillars in our community: Reds O’Donnell, Ray Koons, Mike Ebbert, Jimmy Wentz, Kevin Long, Larry Ahner, Steve “Hogan” Ebbert…far too many to continue to mention here.
Veteran Ernie Bauer's home was originally the first
home of the Salem Bible Fellowship Church.  I
attended the Cypress Street Church and also the
final succession out along the Mahoning Creek
in Mahoning Township before joining Jacob's United
Church of Christ. 

And some serve in unknown ways too. 

Union Hill neighbor volunteers for the non-profit group “Soldiers Angels.”  He recently helped an Iraqi IED survivor get his first adaptive computer.  The vet, who lost both legs and an arm, was ever so grateful to be able to interact with others and play video games with this device.  But most of all, he was grateful to be simply remembered.

One Coast Guard veteran, who lives on Union Hill, has put in uncounted hours honoring these dead and others by clearing out brush, filling in sunken graves and much more.  But he didn’t tell me.  I had to discover this from his neighbors.  I can’t mention his name here.  He, like so many people like him, do so only if they can remain nameless.

Selfless dedication: Something for all of us to admire and respect.

Thank you, to all who once served and to those who continue to serve for those who no longer can.

It is for us to gather here to remember them, to ponder their loss from their family, and the loss felt by this community as well.  Their loss has become our loss.

Please continue to remember them.

A small selection of the many other Union Hill service graves: