Pennsbury hosted its 18th annual Wall of Honor ceremony Friday morning at PHS West. Members of the audience stood in silence as veterans spoke at the podium, students read historic speeches, and trumpeters played Taps.
The walls bear 201 names of those who lost their lives fighting in various wars throughout America’s history. Each person is a relative of students and faculty.
Col. Barry Miner, a veteran of the U.S. army, was invited as the guest speaker. He asked everyone in attendance to complete three tasks.
“First, in your own way find some moments as often as you can to remember those patriots who answered the call of duty, who perished and now cannot be with us.”
“Secondly, I would ask that you remember the many still unaccounted for and missing. Pray in your own way that they will be safe in the hands of their god until they can be once again safe in the arms of their loved ones at home.”
“And thirdly, I would ask you to seek out those veterans still with us, and greet them. Say hello. Let them know if they’re here among us that you really appreciate their service before they become just a remembrance for you on Memorial Day.”
Staff member Allison McBryar organized the event with Robin Skogen. McBryar’s grandfather’s cousin died while invading Normandy Beach in WWII as part of the second wave. She stood with Penny Armagost, who lost her husband Rick Guest in Vietnam, both with tears in their eyes.
Armagost, a graduate of Pennsbury High School in 1964, taught at the school district from 1969-1987. She also acted as a reading specialist until 2004.
After the ceremony, McBryar thanked custodial staff Cassie Keller for hanging the flags and preparing Pennsbury’s Wall of Honor for the event. She also recalled learning about the death of Pennsbury graduate Nate DeTemple during the Iraq War.
DeTemple was 19 years old when he died on Aug. 9, 2005.
“His dad was my D.A.R.E officer, his mom was a computers teacher here, he was a wrestler,” McBryar said. “An integral member of the Pennsbury community. He and his family were well respected and loved. It was very tough on the Pennsbury community and the whole Levittown, Fairless Hills, Yardley area. We carry that with us all the time.”
Other veterans stood by while a video presented photograph after photograph of members of the Pennsbury community who died in WWII and the Vietnam War.
Spec 5 Sgt. Jim Spahn with the 173rd Airborne Division and Navy Lt. Ralph Rhodes graduated with Miner in 1964. All three recalled the experiences of hearing about their fallen peers in the hallway to this news organization.
“We’re veterans and we’ve been there and in similar situations that took the lives of these people. Goosebumps,” Spahn said. “A lot of these people you either knew, lived next to, or sat next to in class. It brings back a lot of memories because there is no more. You go back to all the good times that you had: what you did and where you did it. And the funny times too.”