Emotions Spill Over in Quakertown’s Memorial Day Ceremonies

Quakertown’s Memorial Day ser­vice received a major jolt of pas­sion, cour­tesy of the Quakertown Community School District — its stu­dents, teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tors — who dis­played a love and appre­ci­a­tion for America’s vet­er­ans who went to war to pro­tect our free­doms and nev­er returned home.

The pride­ful event at Memorial Park, fol­low­ing the majes­tic sounds and march­ing of the bands from the high school and Strayer Middle School, includ­ed an emo­tion­al keynote speech by Dr. Bill Harner, QCSD’s super­in­ten­dent and a 20-year vet­er­an of the U.S. Army.

Harner momen­tar­i­ly broke down when talk­ing about Frank Parker, the high school band direc­tor whose father was killed in Vietnam.

It was very dif­fi­cult to get through that part of the speech,” Harner said. “I have a deep respect for Frank, his com­mit­ment to his stu­dents, our pro­gram, and his loy­al­ty to the Quakertown Community.”

Harner’s emo­tion was not lost on Parker, who stood with his stu­dents not far from where the super­in­ten­dent spoke. “It’s nice to know that he includ­ed a per­son­al mes­sage to me,” Parker said. “It’s very nice for him to take that moment.”

Each year, Parker speaks with his stu­dents about the impor­tance of Memorial Day. “It’s a con­nec­tion my stu­dents will always have,” he said.

Coincidently, the theme of Harner’s speech, on Memorial Day’s 150th anniver­sary, was that very same his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive Parker pro­vides to his students.

Your atten­dance role mod­els for younger gen­er­a­tions this sacred tra­di­tion and cre­ates habits for their behav­ior for years to come,” Harner said. “You reap what you sow!”

Harner, whose speech can be found on pages 2–3, told of his per­son­al strug­gles fol­low­ing the events of 9/11. He spoke of the self­less nature of America’s heroes and their will­ing­ness to die to pro­tect their fam­i­lies and our country.

It was fan­tas­tic to have Dr. Harner here so that we have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the school who has served our coun­try,” said Dick Helm of Quakertown’s American Legion Post 212, who praised Harner’s “won­der­ful message.”

He can speak to the future of our youth.”

Several stu­dents from the high school played a role in the cer­e­monies. Ana Handel read “Flanders Fields” and Adam Fischer read “The Gettysburg Address.”

Grace Wilson and Micah Kunkle were each award­ed the American Legion’s Certificate of Distinguished Achievement.

The high school band played a salute to the armed forces, in which vet­er­ans stood when their ser­vice branch was called. And after the names of the local ser­vice mem­bers killed in bat­tle were read, fol­lowed by a ring­ing bell, mem­bers of American Legion Post 242 and VFW Post 11322 who died in the last year were giv­en a sim­i­lar sign of respect.

The American Legion Honor Guard per­formed a rifle salute and high school band mem­ber Paul Hand then played Taps.

When the ser­vice con­clud­ed, sev­er­al peo­ple in the crowd thanked Harner for his speech and his service.

It was a very spe­cial day,” Harner said.